By: Al Robertson
(1 Timothy 1:15-17)
Merry Christmas to all of our friends! Lisa and I have always enjoyed this time of year. One reason we look forward to the season is because the holidays provide an excellent opportunity for our growing family to gather and enjoy several days of ridiculously calorie-rich food, not-so-mild Robertson bantering, and wild raucous games of Scrabble, spades, and dominoes. Oh, and let’s not forget the football. We might go over top on that.
But as we’ve gotten older and become more aware of our own sinfulness and mortality, the season has taken on a more serious tone. It’s not that we are more somber during the holiday season, but Lisa and I have been fortunate to have passed through the gauntlet of spiritual decay and rebellion only to come out on the other side with eternity intact. You know our story; Satan did what he could to destroy our family and our relationship with God only to be defeated by a redeeming God. So when we are reminded that Jesus came to save us from our sins (we have more reminders this time of year), we celebrate and offer praise to God.
Jesus’ appearance ushered in the good news that instead of being forced to wallow in our guilt and shame, we are now soaking up the blessings of our redemption. This freedom from the ravages of our sin became a reality as soon as the God who created the universe first appeared in a manger over 2,000 years ago. We didn’t know about it or enjoy it until God opened our eyes to it over twenty years ago, but trust me when I say, it began in a stable all those years ago.
Think about it — a God who could breathe the vast universe into being became one of us. He became a tiny, vulnerable newborn — as the line in the song “In Christ Alone” says, “…who took on flesh, fullness of God in helpless babe….” What blows my mind is that at the moment of his birth, all of the fullness of God was embodied by that baby. In fact, the Bible says that God was “pleased” to dwell in the body of Jesus. (Colossians 1:19)
If you’re wondering why he would do such a ridiculous thing, just re-read the verse we began with. He came to save sinners. Paul wasn’t the only one who felt like he was the worst sinner in the world — Lisa and I are tied for first place in the top-ten list of horrible sinners. Thankfully, instead of giving us what we deserved, God instead displayed his patience to us through Jesus. He came to give his life as a ransom for us. And because of what he did for us, we praise his name — daily!
If you were to ask me what Christmas means to me and to Lisa, I would tell you that this is it: A perfect and holy, all-powerful God became someone like me and lived a life of temptation and hardship. He suffered unspeakable horrors at the hands of those he created. You and I (all of us) are rebels against the authority of God and recipients of his mercy. The Bible says he made himself nothing — a tiny, vulnerable, helpless baby in order to demonstrate his love for me.
Having been made aware of this good news, the news that God is a sanity and life-restoring God, we are different now. Our focus isn’t primarily on building an awesome church. We aren’t even focused primarily on building a good marriage or on loving one another. Oh, trust me, I am so thankful for the marriage that our relationship has become through our fellowship with Christ. But our marriage isn’t our first love. Instead, we are constantly pleading with this God of ours to redirect our passion toward him, first and foremost. We beg him to teach us to pursue him more than anything or anyone else. We constantly petition him to help us keep our eyes on Jesus as our Lord, Savior, and King.
In a nutshell, we desire to be like him. I’m well aware of the fact that none of us will ever “arrive.” Being a follower of Jesus means we are constantly on the path to becoming like him, more and more with every passing day. But we constantly want to be like him in the way he willingly entered into this realm as a defenseless baby so that all of mankind could enjoy fellowship with God.
So, during this Christmas season, reflect on what God has done for you through the finished work of Christ. Then begin to fervently pray for God to give you a spirit of self-sacrifice for others. Pray that he will make you like Christ who abandoned the glories of heaven to become one with us in order to save us from our own sin.
Once you begin that journey, I will tell you what you can expect to happen. You will be filled with the joy of appreciation that spontaneously erupts from your vocal cords. You will join in with the apostle Paul and proclaim, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Merry Christmas to all of our friends.