Comedian Jim Gaffigan compares people’s behavior during the Christmas season to that of a drunk person. We go outside and chop down a tree and put it inside to decorate it. Then we take decorations and lights and put them outside our residences. We spend billions of dollars on gifts and stuff them in socks or put them under the decorated tree. After all is said and done, we take everything down, put away the lights, and sign a two-year membership contract at the local gym because we ate too much but then only go for the last part of the month of January. This begs the question: In a society that values logic and reason, is Christmas really all that reasonable?
In college I was taught that reason is the means to arriving to truth. The problem I ran into was I couldn’t figure out whose reason I should subscribe to: Plato, Hume, Aristotle, Descartes, Freud, etc? A lot of very reasonable people arrive to many different truths. I’ve heard a lot of people give up and say, “There is no truth” or “That’s truth that works for you.” Erwin McManus in his book, Soul Cravings, points out this search for truth comes down to who we can trust. Oftentimes our issue is not with the truth but with trust. The problem with reason is that it is only as trustworthy as the person who is utilizing it. Where some can use reason that can theoretically lead to altruism, generosity, and utopia, others can use reason to justify atrocities like murder and genocide.
This is why I follow Jesus. Jesus did not try to use pure logic to explain the kingdom of heaven. In fact, Jesus often went against what many would consider reasonable when displaying what the kingdom of heaven was like. Jesus did not talk all about how we should use reason and logic to make this world a better place. Jesus talked about what we should care about. Jesus talked about values and adhering to those values. When doing so defied all sense and reason, he called it faith. When doing so cost people something, maybe even their well-being or lives, he called it love. The more I’ve trusted Jesus with my life the more I’ve been challenged to do the unreasonable. The more I’ve interacted with those who have lived unreasonably for the life Jesus called us to live through the Scriptures, the more I’ve seen them care more about humanity and practically do something about it.
Maybe Christmas is unreasonable. A virgin birth followed by God being born on earth to walk among us seems unreasonable to many. But maybe it’s not supposed to be about reason. Maybe it’s supposed to be about what we care about. Maybe it’s about engaging the things that seem to us, in practicality, unreasonable: love, generosity, service, sacrifice. Perhaps Christmas time is about celebrating a time when God did the unreasonable and stepped into human history to give us hope for humanity’s future. For some of us, perhaps Christmas is about interacting with God for the first time so that we can begin to see what God values and to live unreasonably for what God cares about.