Merry Christmas! Apart from the merchandizing of the day I love this season for it is a time to reconnect with friends, and family and with the very purpose of Christmas itself. As for Elaine and I it is our hope that you find the hope and love of God this Christmas season. Without that love and hope Christmas tends to be a time of loneliness.
The story is told of a christening that was held many years ago by a very wealthy European family. Many guests were invited to the home for the occasion and came in the latest fashionable garb. Their wraps and coats were carried to a bedroom and laid upon the beds.
After the usual lot of conversation and commotion, they were ready for the christening ceremony and someone asked, “Where is the baby?” The nurse went upstairs to look and returned in alarm and distress. The baby was nowhere to be found!
After several minutes search someone remembered that the child had last been seen lying on one of the beds and after a frantic search the little figure of a child was found, under the wraps of the guests. The chief reason they had come had been forgotten, covered and neglected.
For many the celebration of Christmas covers and crowds out the Christ of Christmas! The chief reason for the Christmas season has been forgotten, covered and neglected. So it is very important for all Christians to come back to the Christmas of the Bible.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. (KJV)
All of our lives, we look for comfort and surround ourselves with the beautiful, comfortable, things that soothe. We look for beautiful churches, the stained glass, the great music but in doing so we can miss the important; truth, righteousness, faith, mercy, and humility.
The Christ of Christmas didn’t come for the ride, for the comfort or for the beautiful. He came to give his life, to carry our burdens. He came and left the comfortable, and the beauty of heaven and took the form of a servant.
Folks don’t expect the Christian life to be a comfortable life. The Christian life is a crucified life. The Lord did not come to make you comfortable. He came to make you Holy, righteous, he came to make you light and salt. Our flesh wants comfort, our spirit wants and needs truth, we need God’s will, and purpose.
Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
In Chuck Colson’s book “The Body” Mr. Colson writes, “The job of the church is not to make people happy, the job of the church is to make you holy.”
John’s gospel says, The Word became flesh and took up dwelt among us. In the church world you will hear the word condescend used to describe the Lord taking on flesh. To condescend means to lower oneself to a level not normally occupied – physically, mentally, or socially. It means to descend voluntarily to the level of another person. And with human beings, this is not always done with kindness. Sometimes there is an air of contempt, snobbery, and haughtiness in human condescension. But there is another side to the use of this word. It also means to be graciously willing to do something regarded as beneath one’s dignity. This is what God did when He became flesh. With a mysterious mixture of Divine grace and love, Jesus performed the greatest act of condescension of all time and eternity.
Where is Jesus? He’s helping the hurting, loving the unlovely, sharing the word of life with the hopeless and he calls us to follow him in his ministry.
I love an illustration first shared by Tony Campolo, this story reminds us of God’s purpose and call in our lives as Christians. Joe was a drunk, miraculously converted in a street outreach mission. Before his conversion he’d gained a reputation as a derelict and dirty wino for whom there was no hope. But following his conversion to Christ, everything changed. Joe became the most caring person at the mission. He spent his days there, doing whatever needed to be done. There was never anything he was asked to do that he considered beneath him. Whether it was cleaning up vomit left by some sick alcoholic, or scrubbing toilets after men had left them filthy, Joe did it all with a heart of gratitude. He could be counted on to feed any man who wandered in off the streets, undress and tuck him into bed, when he was too out-of-it to take care of himself.
One evening, after the mission director delivered his evangelistic message to the usual crowd of sullen men with drooped heads, one of them looked up, came down to the altar and kneeled to pray, crying out for God to help him change. The repentant drunk kept shouting, “Oh God, make me like Joe! Make me like Joe! Make me like Joe!”
The director leaned over and said, “Son, wouldn’t it be better if you prayed ‘make me like Jesus?'”
After thinking about it for a few moments, the man looked up with an inquisitive expression and asked, “Is He like Joe?”‘
Folks do others see Jesus in you? This Christmas let us declare the Christ of Christmas with ours words, our actions and with our very lives!