“It really comes down to that: God loves us. The story of Christmas is the story of God’s relentless love for us. Let him love you – if God was willing to wrap himself in rags and drink from a mother’s breast, then all questions about his love for you are off the table. God has made his case: there is no place he will not go. No place is too common. No person is too hardened. No distance is too far. There is no person he cannot reach. There is no limit to his love.”
(From Because of Bethlehem by Max Lucado)
5 days away: the LED lights are set in place adorning every mall, every corner of every street. The mistletoes are plenty and Christmas trees well set up. The jingles of fa-la-la-la and ra-pa-pum-pum ring in our ears endlessly. Peace swells within our hearts and an unspeakable joy arises at the wonder of the season. It’s Christmas time. For years and years, the Christmas season has created excitement – an unexplainable generosity and tender-hearted kindness characterizes this time and a divine wave of restoration comes upon us, washing away debts and betrayals, emotional assaults and hurts. Renewal and healing reigns. There is just something about Christmas. Every year in this time, a floodgate of questions would be opened – What renders this season of such love? Why is there overwhelming generosity in this time? What are we celebrating anyway? This year is extraordinary for me: I am celebrating Christmas for what it is, truly. Returning to the reason for the season, this Christmas I am going home walking in the truth. Christmas is about Christ.
Christmas is the celebration of an arrival as we await another – the arrival of a Savior. His name is Jesus Christ. The English name ‘Jesus’ traces its origin to the Hebrew word ‘Yeshua’ which means ‘God saves’. The story of Christmas is that of a God who loves His people so so much that He wrote Himself into the story in the form of the human flesh. An author comes to life in the midst of his characters; a playwright comes on stage amongst his cast. The story of Christmas is that of a love so so great that it saw the King of all Kings humble Himself to come into the world in lowest of forms – a little baby wrapped in rags, birthed in a manger. The all-divine, all-powerful, Almighty Prince of Peace comes into the world for His people to do for them what we could never do ourselves – to save.
For a long time, I had immense fear and resistance to God because the mention of Him would bring to mind a fierce disciplinarian waiting upon my failures and mistakes to reprimand and despise me. He was vastly misunderstood in my image of Him that was built on lies; the biggest lie of all was that He comes just to condemn and punish me. The story of Christmas tells the truth. The truth is that God is love and He comes first to save us from the darkness in which we unknowingly live, that which we ourselves have no power to leave. The truth is that God loves you relentlessly and He pursues you still with the wildest promise that He comes to save. God’s power is to be feared, His anger and wrath are real; but what is no less real is that nothing separates us from the love He lavishes upon us unfailingly. He is waiting on your ‘yes’. Yes, the God who created all of heavens and the earth came down beneath the very stars He created to extend the long-standing invitation to be in a relationship with you. (It is beyond imagination and beyond understanding. It is amazing grace.)
Perhaps you are confused, unsure about what you believe about God or Jesus Christ. Then, as you are reading this I pray for the eyes of your heart to see that you are not here reading this piece ‘by chance’, not ‘by the coincidental click on the mouse’ or ‘by the random leading of gut feeling’. This is an invitation from God Himself, He calls out to you and pleads with you to receive the love that is in Him. He brought you here. The truth of Christmas is that the baby in the manger knows your brokenness and understands your sorrows, He knows what is holding you back and the insecurities that trap you. He took on your face in the hope that you would see His. He sees right into the heart of your fears and wants to free you. In the words of Max Lucado, “If the King was willing to enter the world of animals and shepherds and swaddling clothes, don’t you think He’s willing to enter yours?”
There is confusion where we let Christmas be just about the jingling bells and smiling Santa Claus, where we celebrate the ornaments adorning trees and indulge in the endless sales along streets of the homeless. Do you hear the inkling in your heart saying, “there must be something more”? There is more – Christmas is about hope that persists in the possibilities that life can and should be better than it currently is; Christmas is about faith that joy, peace and purpose will emerge victorious in our broken world and broken lives; Christmas is about love that remains faithful forever regardless of trials or failures. Christmas seeks the face of the answer to our questions, it seeks a love that each of our hearts long for deeply.
The face you’re seeking exists and the most radical love story is still being told today: they are found in a person that Christmas is all about. His name is Jesus Christ.