Yes, it has come to this–it’s not even December and I’m already writing a post about Christmas. I know it’s a little early, but since the rest of the world seems to have already jumped head first into the Christmas season, it’s important that we balance the rat race of shopping and parties with some meditation on what this season is really about. With that in mind, here’s something that I’ve been thinking about as the Christmas season begins to unfold…
To profess that God became Man is not at all a neutral statement. That said, I am often struck by how casually we tell the Christmas story. Each year we go through the routine of remembering our Savior’s humble beginnings, and although the festivities and the lights add a certain dynamic of wonder to the celebration, we have nevertheless tamed this wild tale. The story might stir in us feelings of sentimentality or excitement, but we are rarely dumbfounded by it.
Yet think, for a moment, about what it is we say we believe: God, the Creator of the Universe, became a man by impregnating a virgin so that He could save all humanity from the evil of the world through this God-Man baby. I mean no irreverence, but doesn’t that sound a little crazy? Realistically, what would you do if a friend of yours approached you with the following news: “You’ll never believe this, but God came to me in the night and said that my pregnant fiancée is carrying a divine baby who will save the world!” I, personally, would run away as fast as possible, and probably stop being their friend.
Indeed, what we as Christians say we believe is more than a little off the wall. That, of course, is why we call it faith. But Christmas is a great opportunity to look at the story with fresh eyes. Had we not been born in a culture that was used to hearing the Christmas story, and had Christ’s birth not been domesticated into an annual routine, how might we have responded upon hearing this narrative for the first time?
Most likely, we would have responded in one of two ways: We would have either rejected it as pure insanity, or believed it whole-heartedly and exclaimed, “Can this good news really be true? I want to follow such a God!” Those are the only two logical choices. To respond, “I guess I can buy that,” but then continue your life unchanged is utterly nonsensical. If we do, in fact, believe that the Creator of the Universe became a human and died on the cross for us, then there is no neutral response. To believe that God loves us so radically is to be forever changed. The only people who remain unchanged by such news are those who don’t believe it, or simply don’t understand it.
So this Christmas, think about what it is you believe. If we truly believe that God became human to deliver us from a fallen world, then that is a God for whom we should cast off everything to follow. That is a God worthy of radical discipleship, adoration, and glory. To respond any other way is to misunderstand what it is we profess. We will never fully understand the heights and the depths of what God has done for us. But the more we ponder the Christmas story, the more we will be transformed by it. And when this happens, we will stop celebrating the birth of God’s son simply because it is tradition or because the marketing culture compels us, but because we are so filled with joy that we cannot help ourselves