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Small and Strange Packaging and the Story of Jesus

Big things come in small packages. That cliche has been around for years. And it works really well because we know that it is very often true. “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” is another one. Both of these beg the hearer to consider examining an object before making a judgement. They prompt us to remove the wrapping, or delve into the pages to see what lies inside. The one about a book and its cover is the one that strikes me the most. Some of the best stories in my library at home are found in books that have covers so beat to death that they seem cheap. The artwork on them is of an outdated style. The pages are yellowed, and the edges, worn. No one would ever pick them up in a bookstore. Oh but if they did! And if they applied themselves to reading the stories, they would be taken to places of great beauty, and great danger, and greater victory. I sometimes still pick them up and read them today. A book’s value is in its content, not it’s display.

Sometimes great things come in strange packages, too. American marketing history is full of such strangeness. Think about pringles potato chips. They come in a tennis ball can, but taste way better than tennis balls! L’eggs panty hose – I don’t know if those are still around or not — but my mother wore them. They came in a plastic egg! But all that strange packaging did was make you notice the greater thing that was inside. Essentially, packaging is nothing more than a shell to hold content together. But just like not judging a book by it’s cover, you can’t really judge a product by its packaging.

And this is true of the Jesus story, as well. It has great packaging, and is also a bit strange! Can you think of better marketing than the headline of “Virgin Gives Birth to Baby Boy!” Or how about this, “God Growing in the Womb of Teenaged Girl!” That’s the kind of marketing that gets eyeballs, and sells newspapers. In fact, you see this tactic all the time in modern media, but then once you read the story, you find that the source is not credible, or if you find the source and story credible, you discover that the headline was written only to grab your attention, and the truth is something less than you imagined. But you can’t know that if you don’t read the story. The story of Jesus is one that is greater than his strange packaging, and far, far greater than the leather covers of a bible. And you can’t know that story until you delve into it and experience it’s great beauty, the great dangers it talks about, and the great victory it offers. And once you do that, you’ll find that unlike the books on my shelf, the contents of that story are playing themselves out all around you in real time. And if you accept the truths of that story, you’ll find that they’ll also play out inside of who you are! So don’t judge His story by the cover. Great and big things come in strange and small packages.

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