What was I thinking!
What Did I Get Myself Into?
I hate shopping! Even worse, I had agreed to go with her on the busiest shopping day of the year. The only reason I can come up with is that if she went, I would be at home alone with all three kids - ALL DAY LONG! Oh well….
What I experienced that Friday was ugly! People were pushing, adults were fighting over toys and parking spaces (we saw two guys almost get in a fist fight over a parking space), and the sales people were rude. Honestly, it wasn't all too bad. There were some people that seemed to have some perspective, but not many we ran into.
A bright spot in our day was when we were seated in a restaurant next to a new mom and her baby. It just so happened that we had our baby with us that day, too. The young mother and my wife Robin struck up a conversation and it wasn't long before our conversation turned to spiritual things.
This woman was feeling guilty and alone (as an unwed mother). We were able to share about Christ's love and we invited her to visit our church. It was a total God-ordained appointment.
Anyway, the whole consumer-driven, commercialized theme of the holiday shopping rush always seems to frustrate me. I keep asking myself, "Don't they get it?" I mean…do they really think that's what Christmas is all about?
If we look at the Christmas story from its original source, the Bible, we can determine the true meaning of Christmas. Let's look at it. There are two biblical accounts to look at, Matthew 1:18-2:19 and Luke 1:5-2:40.
So, according to these passages (please read them in your own Bible), what is the purpose of Christmas? What is is all about? Maybe it's about:
- Family & Friends
Obviously in the Christmas story, they had plenty of both! Think about it…what better time is there to gather in community and celebrate relationships than the anniversary of God's Son coming to earth?
But no. I don't think that's the real purpose of Christmas.
This story is filled with paradoxical things such as:
- The Creator (Heb. 1:2) became one of His created beings (Heb. 2:14).
- The Author of time subjected Himself to it. Although He exists in a world without time (2 Peter 3:8 - otherwise called eternity), he willingly stepped into it.
- The infinite God became a limited human (Phil. 2:5-7). Think about it...the omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (being everywhere at once), omnipotent (all-powerful) God became a baby. The One on Whom all life depends became frail and dependent on His parents for everything. Let me tell you from firsthand experience, that's not what I would choose.
- The ultimate Ruler of the universe was born into obscurity…into a poor blue-collar family. Yet still, I don't believe this is the reason for Christmas.
- Divine Guidance
Divine guidance occurs no less that 11 times in the two Nativity accounts:
- Zechariah (Luke 1:5-20)
- Joseph (Matt. 1:20-25, Matt. 2:13-15, Matt. 2:19-21)
- Shepherds (Luke 2:8-14)
- Wise Men (Matt. 2:1-12)
- Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
- Anna (Luke 2:36-38)
- Mary (Luke 1:26-38)
…But I don't think this has a legitimate claim to God's true intent.
In this story we see two great examples of giving:
1. God to man (Luke 2:10-11)
2. Man to God (Matthew 2:11)
…Of course, this story is about the gift of God's one and only Son to us, but I believe there is a deeper truth He wants us to see.
The Christmas story is vital to understanding the whole story of God. In it, we see a God who cares so deeply for us that he was compelled to act. It wasn't enough for Him to carry sympathetic thought toward us...He had to get involved.
In his book "Mortal Lessons" (Touchstone Books, 1987) physician Richard Selzer describes a scene in a hospital room after he had performed facial surgery on a young woman:
I stand by the bed where the young woman lies…her face, postoperative…her mouth twisted in palsy…clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, one of the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be that way from now on. I had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh, I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut this little nerve. Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and together they seem to be in a world all their own in the evening lamplight…isolated from me…private.His Love Still Works Too
Who are they? I ask myself - he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously. The young woman speaks. "Will my mouth always be like this?", she asks. "Yes," I say, "it will. It is because the nerve was cut." She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. "I like it," he says. "It's kind of cute."
All at once I know who he is. I understand and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with the divine. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate hers…to show her that their kiss still works.
We were hopelessly ruined by sin and our lives broken beyond our means of repair. Many of us carry internal scars as a result. There was no possible way we could ever even hope for a relationship with a holy and pure God.
He knew that, so He accommodated us by becoming as we are, even a little baby. His body was later twisted and broken on the cross. The purpose was to show us that His love still works and that He is able to repair the broken relationship between us and Him. You are not beyond His love; you haven't gone too far or done too much.
Also, I believe Christ's coming was God's response to the often unspoken cry of our hearts…to be loved, to belong, and to be significant. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that God has placed "eternity in the hearts of men." Inside each of us there is a longing for more. This is why we are drawn to the supernatural, even those of us that are more given to "logical thinking."
There is a poem that I dearly love; it is entitled "Our Greatest Need,"
If our greatest need had been information,Robin and I pray that your Christmas season is filled with memorable times of peace, joy, and community!
God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology,
God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money,
God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure,
God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness,
so God sent us a Savior.
Have You Given Your Heart To Him?
If you have never given your heart to Christ, there is no better gift you can give Him (for His human birthday) than the gift of your heart and your life! All you have to do is pray to Him and ask Him to come into your life as your forgiver (for the wrongs you've done), your friend (who will never give up on you or abandon you) and the leader of your life (the One who is in control).
If you have walked away from a relationship with Him, simply confess your sins and ask for His forgiveness. First John 1:9 says He will restore the broken relationship and the broken fellowship between you and Him. Why don't you come back home where your heart belongs today?
If you do, your life will never be the same.