So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. (Heb. 13:13)
Can we ever get over worrying about our own self-worth? Can we ever be glad to be despised, to be rejected, to be abandoned, to be cheated, to be hated? If we stopped fearing that - indeed if we embraced the cross instead of shirking it - we would be true Christians.
And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” (John 19:37)
There is an awful truth at the heart of life that we dare not face. We have crucified Our Lord. We always have the best intentions, but we eat one another up like wolves devouring wolves. And sometimes we catch a glimpse of this.
We know who we are. We are ashamed of it. We busy ourselves so as not to see it, but we tear at one another with ravenous fangs, and we are torn apart even by those closest to us.
We appeal gently when evil things are said about us. Yet we are treated like the world's garbage, like everybody's trash--right up to the present moment. (1 Cor. 4:13)
I have treated people like this. People have treated me like this. And the more we are wronged, the more they wrong us. We cannot bear to look on Him whom we have pierced. We cannot stand to see the reproach we leveled on Him outside the camp. We hate no one more than the one who stands as a sign of contradiction; we avoid no one more than the one who loved us and to whom we responded with hate. That alone makes us hate Him, for his goodness stands as a witness against us. For He took it as we spit upon Him and pummeled Him. We pierced Him and He bled for our sake.
So in all the pettiness and glibness of the Advent season, remember that it's not merely God who comes to us in a manger, it is the One we hate the most, the One we would do anything to avoid, the One we have betrayed again and again, offering in return for his kindness a vicious contempt, offering in return for his open-armed embrace the mockery of an open-armed crucifixion.