Come Let Us Adore Him

Gaye Francis WilliardBy Gaye Francis Williard12 Minutes

Excerpt from Every Knee Shall Bow- A Christmas Collection by Gaye Frances Willard.

Editor’s note:

Artist and author Gaye Willard hopes this Christmas is much different than last year. Her painting of Santa kneeling before the baby Jesus was blocked as “violent” on Facebook, and numerous mainstream news outlets including The Blaze, Newsbusters, and Fox News radio picked up the story. Due to the massive media coverage and consumer outcry, Facebook rescinded the blocked content, and Willard was left wondering why the painting became such a target.  In response to that event, which she says brought criticisms from both non-Christians as well as Christians, she decided to write a book detailing what inspired that particular painting, along with several other of her works in the new hardcover book, “Every Knee Shall Bow—A Christmas Collection.”

“My initial reaction to Facebook calling the painting ‘violent’ was disbelief,” says Willard. “What could possibly be construed as violent in an image of Santa kneeling at the manger? But what I realized was that it was not the actual image that carried a message of ‘violence,’ but the conversations that were the result of viewing it. It had provoked anger from two camps: those who opposed the person of Jesus Christ and those who opposed the depiction of Santa Claus and Jesus in the same space.”

Willard’s painting of “Every Knee Shall Bow” was the basis for a product line carried by Hobby Lobby and other retailers. Willard says it was not surprising that some were offended by the image, but she has been surprised at the level of emotional response it has received.

“Even if I didn’t believe in Jesus, I’m certain that I would still love Christmas,” says Willard. “I love the artistry of Christmas; the beauty of the lights, the bright colors of packages and bows, the sparkle and the festive mood. But there is an element to Christmas that cannot be realized without knowing Jesus. It is a quietness—a sense of awe and wonder. It is reverence. It is worship. And worship of the King is the simple inspiration and message I wanted to convey in that painting.”

“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker.” Psalm 95:6

A quick glance back through the known history of the people groups who have occupied this earth reveals a commonality regardless of location or time period. The human race has been aware, on some level, that something has more power and deserves more honor than they themselves. Civilizations, having no contact or knowledge of the other’s existence, bear a curious resemblance to one another in their recognition of these higher ‘somethings.’ This common awareness led them to fabricate entities worthy of the adulation they were compelled to give. These real and imagined objects of worship are littered about in the remains of their cultures. Scientists have unearthed statues, drawings and temples exposing a vast array of supposed deities presumed worthy of worship. Empires embraced mythological heroes and heroines believed to possess powers of god-like proportions. Tales of epic battles between mortal and immortal, between good and evil, between man and ‘the gods,’ blurred the lines between fact and fiction.

If it were not so spiritually deceptive, these attempts at crafting something powerful enough, big enough, magnificent enough, worthy enough, to stir up a passionate desire to worship just might be amusing…in a pathetic sort of way. It may be in our DNA to worship but we have not a cell in our bodies with the capacity to create anything worthy of it. Whatever we may try, or how exhaustive our pursuit, we will never fill the divinely-created void reserved for the worship of a King. We might spare no energy in futile efforts to fill it with the stuff of earth, but they will never be enough. We may patch it, deny it, or attempt to remove it altogether but it remains empty until its divinely-appointed occupant is granted residency. Within the frailty of our flesh and bones, the space is small. It can house only one. One small enough to be contained within the tiny frame of a newborn baby, yet one great enough to transcend all space and time. Christmas is a call to, in God-blessed abandon, embrace our strongest compulsion; our yearning desire; our greatest need. It is an invitation to passionately focus our hearts and minds on the only One worthy of our worship.

The ritualistic practices conjured up as appeasement or earning favor have never been compatible with the word of the Lord and His call to worship. He has never demanded that we wear ourselves out trying to impress Him. He is not interested in our efforts to outdo each other with good works. In fact, if we ever fill that worship-void, it will have nothing to do with us at all and everything to do with Him.

He knows what will capture our hearts. He wants us to see Him for who He is; to know the everlasting love He has for us.  “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1 NIV) Love is what He does. Love is who He is. He loves us. Therefore, He can be loved in return. And it is our love that He desires. Not a half-hearted, once in a while, mostly on Sundays, kind of love. But the kind that consumes all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our mind. He wants our adoration because He is worthy. Adoration of a King is the heart of worship. And that is the heart of Christmas.

I can merely attempt to bring artistry to a truth as beautiful as that. It is too other-worldly to even begin to portray. Even if images were available of the night of Jesus’ birth. Even if a snapshot existed of the new Baby Boy. Even if the joy on His mother’s face had been captured as she looked lovingly at the miracle before her, no man-made device could convey the sense of awe and wonder that filled the air. No one dimensional still-shot could possibly contain the glory of the Son of God.

But if images did exist, they would, no doubt, shatter the depictions with which we have become accustomed. While we may not know the particulars of Jesus’ birthplace, what we do know is enough to be reminded that our God does things like no other! That is why He can say, “I am the Lord your God…You must have no other god but me.” The Son of God, worthy of all praise; The King of Glory, alone deserving the adoration of the whole world, made His entrance without the customary pomp and circumstance.

What we do know is that Jesus was not born in the comforts of home. He was not, as His mother might have wished, born in a room provided to weary travelers. He was not born secluded within four walls and a closed door. This tiny baby of unearthly royalty was born in a structure completely open to both man and beast. Open to their coming. Open to their adoration. Nothing prevented their entrance into His presence. The Lord of Heaven and earth was at last completely accessible to human hands.

Could God have made His Son any more approachable? The Bread of Life closed His eyes and slept where the animals were fed. Perhaps, in their curiosity, they crept closer to see this tiny visitor. I imagine they must have felt an unusual contentment as they investigated the strange form occupying their manger of hay. And just as a dog knows the one to whom he belongs, I believe these creatures moved and breathed in the peaceful awareness that they were in the presence of their Master. Were it possible for them to bow in reverence, I believe they would have bowed. But in their animal way, perhaps they simply quietly stood with awestruck wonder in the presence of the King.

At the heart of Christmas is the extravagant love of a God who alone is God and who alone deserves our worship. The heart of Christmas is a Savior who came as the manifestation of that love. Such knowledge must have prompted the writing, and repetition, in the strains of a familiar carol; “Oh come let us adore Him… Oh come let us adore Him… Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.” He fills what would be an empty space without Him. He alone deserves our adoration, worship and praise.

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