Merry Christmas! Yes, it is that time of year again. It is truly amazing that we are less than 30 days from a new year. It has been a long year and many are excited to celebrate Christmas and move on to 2017. With a new year comes new challenges, but also the opportunity once more to try to keep and achieve some resolutions that you have tried every new year.
As we pause this month to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, I would like us to focus on the uncomfortable fact that what makes Christmas miraculous, is more than God coming to us as a child, but that God did this despite the truth that God does not need you.
Hold on just on second pastor, you might be saying to yourself right now as you read that last sentence. You probably clicked on this article wondering why anyone would use such a title for a religion-oriented column in the month of December. What happened to the advent theme you might be wondering?
The reality is Christmas has become an annual event continuously driven by consumerism. Most people would hate to admit this but one of the reasons, in their minds, for this season is the chance to see decorations, and feel the crisp air and those wonderful deals online and in stores. Let’s be honest here, we all love gifts and during Christmas; we love to give and receive. We know that giving is a good thing.
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). We enjoy giving especially to children because we all enjoy seeing their faces light up and their anticipation of Christmas morning.
Now I hate to break it to you here in an article, but in case you didn’t know, there is no Santa. Yet one thing interesting about the Santa Claus story is the concept of gifts being given to those who are nice and withholding gifts from those who are naughty. Remember Santa is “making a list, and checking it twice; Gonna find out Who's naughty and nice.”
You better not be on Santa’s naughty list I remember hearing as I grew up. What leverage a lie had over a child, but I digress. The point is that we all understand the importance, whether it is for Santa or life in general, that we are to behave and be nice.
Unlike Santa, God is real. God does not have a naughty or nice list; he has the book of life. Your name is either in that book or it is not.
Bear with me here a second; it is going to get a little dark. The Word of God says in Revelation 20:15 “And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
I know you’re thinking I should have stuck with the Santa story. Unlike the modus operandi of Santa where you don’t get a present if your naughty, not being found in the Book of life has eternal consequences.
The greatest gift of all was given to us despite how naughty we all are. Look at our rap sheet. “No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18) None is righteous, no, not one. All have turned aside. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:10,12,23)
If there ever was a naughty list there you have it. And yet God who is perfect and without sin decided to come in the form of a child, to grow up and give his life freely for us.
God “the Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:24-25)
God, who does not need anything, does not need you or me, but still bestows his love on us through Jesus Christ. Now that is amazing grace.
This Christmas let us focus on this truth, that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)
We, the naughtiest of all, received the greatest gift of all, which is Jesus Christ. A gift that was not under a tree, but one that hung on a tree.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)