Emmanuel. God with us. God incarnate. The God of creation came down to earth as an infant, born a king in the most humble of circumstances, making it possible for both princes and paupers to be at home with Him.
Two thousand years later, His book, the Holy Bible arguably remains the world’s all time best-seller. Recent estimates tell us that more than 5 billion copies have been printed in hundreds of languages. While our society has grown more secular and less spiritual, He is not deterred or discouraged. Jesus still rules and reigns and whether intentional or not, the world still celebrates His coming each December.
Though it may now be called Winter Break instead of Christmas vacation, His coming is still marked with every Christmas tree sold, every intentional act of kindness, every gift exchanged, every carol sung, every meal shared, every dollar dropped into a red kettle, every cookie baked, every family gathered, every recital performed, every card sent, and every “Merry Christmas!” spoken. His mark in indelible.
He came to die. But, by His life and through His word, He taught us how to live, and to do so in ways that often confound our neighbors and friends. He taught us:
- To walk humbly when the world tells us to aim for the top
- To give not just from our wealth but sacrificially
- To put the needs and desires of others ahead of our own
- To forgive 490 times if necessary, and then, perhaps some more
- To seek the pleasure of God vs the praise of men.
- To obey His word despite a world that finds it vastly out of date
- To be inclusive when we long for the intimacy of familiarity
- To be content, not merely in our circumstances but in Him
- To build community for ourselves and to be it for others
- To value knowing Him above every worldly measure of success
- To be generous toward God, giving Him the best of all we have and are
- To share the love of Christ with our lives and our words
- To fear God more and men less
- To be merciful when we long for justice
- To pray for those who seek to do us harm
- To entrust ourselves to Him who judges justly
- To recognize the enemy but to know that lion has no teeth
- To put our hope in things eternal
All this so that we could know and be known by Emmanuel, and be called His own.
In his book WAITING HERE FOR YOU, Louie Giglio says, “Christmas led to the Cross, and on both days Jesus accomplished what no one else could.”
What He accomplished was full payment for our failures, our sins, our just punishment for our sinful inclinations and behaviors. Not because we earned it, but because He loves us with an everlasting love. He came as a sweet little infant boy, wrapped in swaddling clothes, with impossibly soft skin and a perfect tiny mouth–no doubt a mother’s dream. But His destiny was to live and then to die. For us. So that we could be transformed to His image and to live eternally with Him free from the bondage of sin and shame. We cannot earn it, we don’t deserve it, but He came, the perfect gift from Heaven.
We have only to receive from His bounty. Christmas is past, but His gift remains. Today is the day of salvation. Take hold of the hand that reaches out to you with a gift tailor made for you.
Keep Christmas in your heart. Every day. It is the source of imperishable hope.