Sometimes, if we’re not careful, attempting to help others result in more harm than good.
If it’s really human to err, we should diligently consider how our actions — no matter how well intended — could be harming those we think we’re helping.
The hubris nature of the human heart can drive decisions that create cascades of uncorrectable consequences, because we convince ourselves we are doing what’s best for everyone involved.
Think about what you would do in this particular situation: A newborn child is living in a barn, without running water, food, lights or adequate clothing. The mother’s a teenager and the father’s currently unemployed. The barn houses many animals and the baby doesn’t even have a blanket to keep warm.
If you were a social worker or with Child Protective Services, would you take this child away from the parents? If you answered yes, congratulations, you just removed Jesus from Joseph and Mary’s care and have just decimated the greatest event and destroyed Christmas.
This reminds me of something I read once, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: Who can know it?”
No human heart possibly can possess the complete knowledge necessary when it comes to something as significant as changing the Christ child’s family. Family is the main idea embodied in the story of Christ’s birth and the foundational building block of all societies past, present and future. It cradles the cornerstone of the human family’s salvation.
There’s this ancient African Proverb, that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Sometimes there’s a place for going fast and alone. God knows I have the temperament to go at it alone, but there also are times we need to go far more than go fast and we cannot go alone.
I believe going together means creating a shared consensus capable of multiplying available knowledge and understanding many times over; thus, increasing a teams ability to not only get farther, but to eliminate assumptions, make correct conclusions and accurately arrive at the destinations with the least amount of collateral damage.
Airlines have flight crews working together, as a team, to fly planes more safely than an individual pilot alone. Would you rather fly on a plane with one pilot or a complete flight crew all working together to ensure you arrive safely. None of the crew members are perfect, but all together they create a better flight experience for everyone aboard the plane.
So why, as a society, would we ever allow one person the power and authority to take any child from their family? Acting alone, how many people would have removed Jesus from Joseph and Mary?
In the royal law, all accusations are supposed to be confirmed by two to three witnesses who can corroborate the actual facts. This same concept is used to simultaneously put thousands of planes in the air and safely land them all over the world. But when it comes to the safety and welfare of our children, we give individuals complete power to change our families’ stories.
I believe complete power completely corrupts and no one person has the ability to decide our family story. There should be teams who work together to make such life-changing decisions. We offer team counseling strategies at our office for this exact reason and it creates a synergy moving counseling experiences in more positive directions that help people actually reach their goals.
But as a society, it seems our minds already are made up, so why confuse you with the facts?
The family, as imperfect as it has become, still is worth saving and the Christmas story is truly about the human family being saved and kept together, not torn apart.
This Christmas what if you stopped long enough to consider the meaning of the incarnation? Perception may drive reality, but those who come to reason together know things are not always what they appear to be. Because in the incarnation, we see the salvation of the whole human family, hiding in a baby, whose parents could only find grave clothes to cover him. Within the most imperfect family circumstances salvation came to all mankind and so may God use his own incarnation story to help you bring salvation to the most imperfect of families — keeping them together instead of tearing them apart.
A visit to the manger transcends all inaccurate perceptions of reality, allowing us to confidently leave Christ where he belongs in the story of Christ’s birth and in our families.
Dr. T.J. Kimble of Radcliff is a clinical pastoral counselor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.