Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thoughts on Christmas

Christmas exists because Jesus was willing to come to earth as a man, setting aside his heavenly identity as God's only son, so that he could show humanity who God is.

Everything Jesus did was different than how people imagined his life to be.

His birth took place in a smelly stable, far away from the Roman governmental palace or the Jewish temple.

Shepherds, the lowest strata of society, were the ones who received the heavenly announcement, far away from the media or the religious center of the Pharisees or Levite priests.

His parents were ordinary Jewish people, poor and from an obscure village north of the main happenings in Israel.

Tradition tells us that Jesus wasn't much to look at: Isaiah 53 states, "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should despite him."

His followers, disciples, were also ordinary men, uneducated, poor and struggling to make a living for their families. They screwed up, they struggled to believe that Jesus was who he said he was, and they didn't understand his teachings very often. They were confused a lot.

So, what are we to make of all of this?

I love the words in Hebrews 4:15 which states, "For we do not have a great high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, but was without sin."

Jesus came to show us his Father. He came to show us that his Father doesn't stand apart from us in another realm: heaven, judging, scoffing, hoping we will fail.

Jesus came to show us that his Father wants us to know that we are like him. We are made in his image, some of him lives in all of us (Genesis 1).

He came to show us that it's not about how powerful or rich or respected we are in life; it's about how we model our life after Jesus.

Why should we do this?

Because our true Father is the God who created the universe, all because he wanted relationship with his creation, the highest creation being humanity.

Because we are loved, we are known, we are given the gift of life as we pattern our lives after Jesus.

Because Jesus came to sacrifice his life.

I still shake my head at the absurdity of it; the God of the Universe being willing to stuff himself into a small human body, come to earth as a helpless baby, hang out with people who were quite ordinary, and then allow himself to be tried as a traitor, whipped like a criminal, and crucified in the most painful and humiliating way that exists to die.

Why did he die?

To bring rightness to the world that he and his Father created.

Sin entered it and everything changed. Jesus came and everything changed when he was baptized and his Father spoke his love and identity over him. The kingdom of God broke through and continues to break through because his blood became the punishment for all of humanity, so that we can be right with his Father.

Strange story, isn't it?

Sometimes I shake my head as I think it or write it. But, it makes sense because we read and hear and know all the time that God's ways are different than our ways.

The only requirement for this love relationship with Jesus and his Father is belief. To believe that Jesus is who he says he is: God's son. To believe that as we align with him, that we are given all the same benefits that Jesus himself had: access to his Father, ability to release the Kingdom of God into the environment thorugh love and healings and miracles, and the promise of a life of great meaning.

Sounds good, I wonder why anyone would want to turn this invitation down. I will continue to respond with a yes to my loving Father's invitation of relationship and Jesus' invitation to pattern my life after his.

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