I’m sure you’ve sometimes grumbled about the way the news is covered. I know I have. Sound bites of information seem to satisfy a good many people. Rather than really thinking through the issues of the day, people want someone else to do their thinking for them. They want information packaged in capsule form to make the few catchy slogans go down easily. This is all some people want to bother with. Tragically, such a passive approach leads to a very superficial understanding of the world in which we live.

Similarly, there’s no shortage of half-hearted greetings and superficial slogans about Christmas. I don’t know how many people have wished me “happy holidays” or have hoped I have a “blessed and merry Christmas.” All this is good and appropriate. But we are in real danger of reducing Christmas to superficial sound bites—and, unfortunately, many of the sad people around us are satisfied with a slogan or two.

Yet the substance of Christmas can be summed up in one incredibly brief statement: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” (John 1:14). If this were our greeting instead of “happy holidays,” perhaps the season celebrations would have more depth to them.

I’m absolutely convinced that our understanding of Christianity stands or falls on what we believe about the statement, “The Word became flesh.” I would ask you a very serious question this Christmas season: Do you really believe the Word—God—became flesh?

I understand why people don’t believe it. After all, it’s a ridiculous statement—unless it’s true. And if it’s true, then almighty God, Creator of the universe, has been in our midst. That’s a discomforting thought. Think of it: God—the Word—became a person and lived among us persons. It does seem to be a logically incompatible statement. If He’s God, He’s God; if He’s man, He’s man. But He certainly can’t be both at once. However, this logic assumes that we know everything there is to know about both God and human beings. And, if we don’t know everything about them, how can we possibly conclude that God becoming a person is impossible?

Today many people who don’t believe that the Word became flesh still celebrate Christmas. All of us want the festivities and the good feelings of the season. There’s no question that the light that comes from God through Christ shines on all people. But that does not mean that all people automatically live in the good of it. The sun shines on everybody, but you can choose to live in a cave if you wish.

However, this fundamental truth requires more from us. If God has become a person, this presents a problem. Scripture says that in Christ we have seen the God of the universe. He has already been here. It’s one thing to think of an adorable baby surrounded by gentle beasts, but are we ready to deal with the reality of God living among us, revealing Himself to us?