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Christmas Messes That Change the WorldDecember 19, 2022
Few things capture the spirit of Christmas better than a traditional nativity scene for many people. The star shines down on the serene baby Jesus, sleeping in a nice little manger with golden straw spilling out from the edges. He’s surrounded by Mary, Joseph, three wise men and several shepherds. They are all radiantly peaceful as they gaze in wonder at the newborn Christ child. Even the animals lying in their nice clean hay seem almost Spirit-filled as they look serenely upon the infant Savior. It’s a cute, quaint scene, capturing the spirit of a cute, quaint holiday. Or, perhaps it was a bit messier than this serene scene.
John 3:16 has often been described as the summary of the gospel message. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This verse reveals that God has a plan to save the world, but it is a very messy plan.
Have you ever wondered why God chose a stable in Bethlehem? It does fulfill scriptures written hundreds of years before, but that means God planned on sending His son to a little town in the middle of nowhere, to be born in a stable, to a couple with no power, where His first bed was a cow’s feed trough. It may not seem like the right place for the King of Kings to be born. Jesus was no ordinary king, but instead was the king of servants, as described in Isaiah 52:13-53:12, seven hundred years before his birth.
Being a servant is messy. It just starts with sleeping in a manger, but it would also include hanging out with poor, crippled, struggling people. He would try to teach His disciples about being servants, even washing their feet, but they struggled to understand, or didn’t want to understand because it was so messy (John 13:1-17).
When he went to the big city, Jerusalem, is when things really got messy. He was betrayed, denied, abandoned, tortured, humiliated, and hung on a cross between two nameless criminals to drown pitifully of his own fluids, as those fluids slowly filled his lungs. The God of the universe would do all this for us.
Are you beginning to see what love is? I John 4:16 tells us that God is love. Paul says of love in the Hymn of Love, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong doing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (I Corinthians 13:4-8).
That is all messy stuff, but when we share such love with others it seems like we take some of the mess away. When you receive such love doesn’t it seem that some of the mess is also taken away?
When we think about our own lives we must admit, life can get pretty messy at times. When we look at it this way, we could say that Christmas is the answer to life’s most important questions. Am I alone? Is there a God, and does He actually care about me? Is life supposed to be a constant battle where I fend for myself, beaten about by the winds of fate, or does God have a plan for my life? How do I approach God? Will God answer my prayers?
That first Christmas God sent the answer to all the most important questions we ask about life. God answered, “Yes, you do matter, and I am with you always.” God will answer all our questions because He loves us, which is made clear through John 3:16.
God also asks us a few questions. The answers are very important for us to fully understand God’s love. God always wants to know if you love Him? What examples can you give that you love God? Do you make any sacrifices for God? Can you give any specific examples? Will you enter into the messy lives of others for God? Are there any questions about the messiness of Christmas or life that haunt you? Where can you go to faithfully find God’s answers to these messy questions of life? I hope you will spend some time talking about these questions with someone you love and trust and honestly think about how Christ’s birth has completely changed your life. If you do I trust it will help this to be a very Merry Christmas. (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see, www.lagrangepres.org).