Grace, Acceptance ... and Rudolph
Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose ... but you don't need me to quote the whole thing, do you? Anyhow, in the spirit of the season, I'm taking a closer look at another popular Christmas song known and loved the world over. I mean, beyond it's catchy little tune, who can't relate with an outcast who is shunned and made fun of because he is different from everybody else? What kid hasn't inwardly wished he or she couldn't gain the same kind of acceptance and respect as Rudolph did with his funky nose? Even more than that, the acceptance referred to in this song arises not in spite of one's difference, but rather because of it.
Now, considering the conditional nature of God's acceptance that's been presented in much of Christianity, the story of Rudolph's glowing schnoz might easily shine brighter. And maybe that's why so many believers have adopted the kind of grace and acceptance as found in this popular holiday song. Let's face it, the acceptance and respect given to Rudolph will only last as long as his fickle and judgmental peers deem it worthy. It's totally conditional. What do we suppose would happen if the glow went away? Or what if the elves at Santa's shop designed a one-size-fits-all glowing nose that caused Rudolph's nose to lose its distinctiveness?
You want to know what I think? I think that from the very beginning, the message of grace has been altered and adjusted by those who thought they could make grace more gracious by adorning it with an acceptance and respect that makes sense to the natural, religious mind of man. This wisdom continues to sneakily insert some kind of performance into the mix as the basis of one's acceptance and importance. But, my friends, that kind of acceptance lasts only so long, which means that it is only an illusion of acceptance. In Christ we have the real thing.