This past Sunday our children sang the familiar Christmas song “Away In A Manger.” I would like to take a moment to encourage you to think about the title and the lyrics for this long a little more closely as we continue to journey toward Christmas morning.
Here’s one way of singing that song that might be a bit more accurate to our American lifestyle. It’s called “Away WITH the Manger”. Be sure to sing the words below, don’t just read them.
Away with the manger
It’s too big a threat
I’d rather have pleasure and rack up my debt
I’m king of my kingdom
And so I won’t bow
Before any manger
I’m busy just now.
Okay, you’re doing great. Sing a little louder now as you move into verse two:
Away with the manger
I’m already king.
There’s no need for a Savior
Yes that’s why I sing.
I’m really quite happy
With my little life.
If a King’s in the manger
That would cause too much strife.
Sadly, these lyrics are often more accurate in describing our heart as we approach the manger of baby Jesus. We like to keep Him in that manger. Cute, innocent, and harmless. But He isn’t harmless. He represents a significant threat to our kingdom. The truth is that our sin nature is just as provoked by the manger as Herod’s was. Matthew 2:16 tells us that he was furious and “gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.” He simply externalized what we often internalize. We want to be king, and we will take drastic steps to protect our kingdom. Since most of us don’t have a throne to wield like Herod, we wield whatever we have at our disposal to secure our happiness. Our money, our talent, our friends, and maybe even our family. We are drawn to use others for our benefit as we silently sing, “Away WITH the Manger.”
As I share those challenging words, please know I am first taking them to heart myself. On my life’s journey, I have discovered that I am more and more tempted to grasp for my kingdom, instead of submitting to His with each year that passes.
So, let’s relook at that song again and rename it to the more biblically-accurate title of “The Way in a Manger”. That’s why the manger is so threatening to mankind. That little baby came with a very offensive name, especially to us post-modern, relativistic Americans who think that we can plot our way to heaven and happiness.
This baby was The Son of God who would grow up and humbly and yet boldly refer to His own name. We read this powerful name in John 14:6:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”
The next time you sing that familiar song, my prayer is that you will take a moment to examine your heart and life. For everything and everyone in the Nativity Story gives a very loud message that we could easily miss.
“You will not find the manger of a Humble King if you are not a humble subject.”
If we are willing to humbly kneel before the Manger of our Humble King, there is a priceless gift that awaits.
There is mercy in the manger for those who are humble and fear God.
Yet mercy makes no sense if there is no justice. Why would I care about receiving mercy, if I don’t believe that I’m guilty and deserve an eternal sentence of death. That’s why we must first see that there is justice in His Manger too. His perfect justice that must bring down our pride that believes we know the way better that God himself. Until we encounter His Justice, we will not value His Mercy.
For The Way truly does “rule world with truth and grace.” We can either come under His Rule, or spend our life trying to make up our own. The Way is in a manger. Let’s humbly let Him be The Way and adjust our entire life to however He leads.
The Way IN the Manger is Humble. The Way TO the Manger is Humble. So, the question this Christmas is, “Have we found The Way In the Manger? Or will we keep singing with our life, “Away with the Manger.” Praise God for His Mercy that is new every morning, especially Christmas morning.