Choice Theory and Christmas
I have been thinking about choice theory and Christmas and I have come to the conclusion that they are wonderfully connected!
My logic goes like this. Christmas marks the moment that God gave up His riches and glory to become one of us with our weakness and poverty. He entered a literal battlefield, a war zone, as a vulnerable, tiny baby. The Christ Child was the Commander of heaven’s armies, though, and He ultimately came to wreak havoc on the enemy’s schemes. Luke described how the choir that announced the Child’s arrival to the shepherds was actually made up of “the armies of heaven.” (Luke 2:13, 14) This incredible display was God’s way of saying Game On. And John declares that –
“The Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8
The works of the devil are bad news. Driven by his hatred of everything for which God stood, he would do everything he could to deface and hurt God’s creation. Having already lured over a third of the angels to distrust God and join him in forming a new government, he focused on convincing us, the crowning work of God’s creative power, to distrust God, too. We chose to believe the devil, to seek a higher place, to go our own way, to align ourselves with a new, alternative government. A void was formed between humans and their Creator and fear and insecurity rushed in to fill the space. Instead of the self-control with which we were created, the devil took advantage of our allegiance to him and sought to capture us in his trap, to chain us within his dungeon, to addict us in behaviors from which their appeared no escape.
How fortunate for us that when the Commander Child arrived in the humble Bethlehem stable it was in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. Thirty years later, as Commander Messiah, He would read this prophecy in the synagogue as a declaration of His mission.
“I have come to release the captives and set the prisoners free.” Isaiah 61:1
God’s government is based on freedom, on the power to choose, on the ability to be in control of our thinking and behavior. Immanuel-the God with us Child-came to win back our freedom to choose, to level an unfair playing field, to give us back to ourselves.
The manger and the cross were one from the beginning. The Child was born in the shadow of death. Yet by His death we are healed, the shackles are unlocked, the prisons of our lives are opened. Through His Spirit we are free.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind.” 2Tim. 1:7
This freedom, this power to choose, this ability to be who you want to be, is so important to God that He was willing to give up everything to insure its future. Freedom was and is His universal non-negotiable.
Choice theory explains how we are motivated from within for reasons that are uniquely personal to us, and that we choose to behave in a way that we think will best meet our needs at that moment. How incredible that God would create us with this kind of autonomy! Let Christmas be a reminder of the freedom that God created us with, and also of His return to redeem us as Commander Child.
Game on at the manger!
Game won at the cross!
We are free!
Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised as he was. Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. Romans 6:5-7
(This post was a re-print from last Christmas, but I don’t think many of you saw it.)
Workshop Ideas – Several of you indicated how much you appreciated the Coca Cola commercial that was shared in the last blog, and suggestions for how the commercial clip could be used in a workshop setting include –
Let participants know that you are going to show a commercial and that you want them to look for a choice theory message in the clip. Ask participants to share their ideas afterward.
Let participants know that you are going to show a commercial about a young couple raising a young child and that the clip is made up of short vignettes. Their assignment is to consider which of the vignettes contains the most powerful choice theory moment. Or which of the vignettes would especially tempt a parent to resort to stimulus-response, reward-punishment?
Merry Christmas to all, and to all good night!
Jim, I foiund this very interesting (am reading this on Christmas Eve Night) and I wondered if you had read Resa Aslan’s book re Jesus of Nazareth? (I also have his No God But God book but have not read it yet). Aslan has an engaging style (like yours) and is very accessible, readable. I think you would find it fascinating….
I haven’t read the book you mentioned, but it is now on my list of books to check out soon. Thank you for the heads-up. The best book I have ever read on the life of Jesus is titled The Desire of Ages. I began reading it as a young man and have continued to read it ever since. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by CS Lewis, is another favorite of mine.
mmmm; CS Lewis (did you see the film? he was played by Anthony Hopkins…) and I have always wanted to read one of his–about the purpose of pain in human lives…..have not read the Desire book…wondering what it was you liked so much… Suzy
Yes, I have seen the Hopkins film, and I recently finished reading the C. S. Lewis biography by Alister McGrath. The bio was a bit slow for me (I read it partly to see how another author wrote a biography), but it was informative none the less.
The Desire of Ages book is powerful in ways that are difficult for me to describe. To a great extent, the book is responsible for my conversion. I was raised in a Christian home, although the focus was more on the religion of Christianity than the idea of having a personal connection with Jesus. The Desire of Ages lifts me out of religion and sits me down with Him. It’s like the curtains of history are pulled back and I am able to see the reality of people’s behavior. Most importantly, the book led me to value the life that I think God wants for this planet — that we love one another and serve each other whenever possible. The book eloquently describes the freedom and power and love that God desires for us. There have been times in my life when I was struggling with discouragement, and even depression, and I have reached for Desire of Ages and read one of its chapters, only to find relief and encouragement in the process.
so eloquent, Jim; sounds like the universal desire of all ages (and addresses the universality of Choice Theory). I think I have long been able to imagine Jesus as a real person whose teachings are available to me; it has been harder for me to do the same with “the first Muslim”—Muhammad, but I think the time has come to understand Islam better than we seem to be able to do in America. In a way he was tripley orphaned, so I have often wondered about how he learned about love and connection. He was a headacher, a meditator, a military commander; in the beginning, he seemed an able mediator, but later, not so much. The customs of those times were probably evolved to assure security and survival; of course, the status of women is hard for me to understand at a deep level; marriage seemed more political and having to do with alliance; of course, history is replete with these incidences and issues. There is the notion of pilgrimage (also huge in Christian history) and being the messenger of God (the shahada = “There is no god but God and Muhammed is his messenger”) although Muhammed seems more eager to have his messenger status known than Jesus may have been. I wish I could read those ancient scripts; sadly, I have to rely on reliable authors—which is why biographers are so important!!!!
BTW, isn’t Pope Francis extraordinary????
A most powerful capsule, Jim! “Game on at the manger! Game won at the cross!
We are free!” The Christmas Gift and Miracle! I Believe. . . Cherish. . . and Protect.
Believe, cherish, and protect. I would love for you to say more about what those words mean to you.
I liked how you pulled all of your thoughts together…..what a nice way to reflect on Chrismas and its meaning.
Good to hear from you, Amy. I hope the holiday break is a need-satisfying time.