As finals week is in full swing, cleaning, and packing and saying goodbye and wishing a Merry Christmas to friends, roommates, and co-workers have marked my day today and because it is finals week this article will be shorter than most have been up until now. But I love Christmas from top to bottom and since I wrote last week about the season of Advent, it seemed fitting to write this week about the day in which Advent leads up to. Christmas.
As much as my nerdy self would like to go into the church history and the culture behind why and how Christians and really people everywhere for that matter celebrate Christmas, I haven't the time, what with final exams and work and packing for home. My aim is simply to say this simple, basic, profound, life-changing, God-honoring, Gospel-advancing, Christmastime truth. Christmas is about joy.
That statement is weird. Weird how, you may ask? It is weird because it sounds so obvious that it almost doesn't seem to be worth writing an article about, yet we overwhelmingly and tragically miss the point of the statement and so writing an article about it may be used to even save someone's soul as they read, by the grace of God alone.
Unless we are like the Grinch or like Ebenezer Scrooge, we feel a certain kind of magic and splendid aura surrounding this season. Me, I was listening to Christmas music in September, but even only-listen-after-Thanksgiving kind of folks can feel it. We are familiar with the term "Christmas spirit" and many of us would say we at this very moment can feel a Christmas-ish tug on our heart simply because of this season. This is a season of joy, but the thing is life was designed by God to be an eternity of joy filled with only seasons of joy.
We all know that Christmas concerns Jesus and His birth 2,000 years ago. Many of us know that Jesus, in some way or another, is called the Son of God and that He did something of great profundity during His life. But because of our sin, we miss the mark when we think about Jesus Christ and even believers such as myself are incapable of seeing Him in the completeness and totality of what He deserves. The reality is that Jesus Christ came, lived perfectly, fully honored and enjoyed God, died on the cross in the place of sinners, and rose from the dead in victory, a victory in which believers experience new life and thick, rigid, happiness. Jesus Christ is the only way, the summum bonum, the end for which we were created, and our living hope in life now and for the age to come.
We were not made by God, but for something else. Even through reason, it seems pretty clear to a lot of us, regardless of whether or not we love Jesus, that we are made by God. But we believe our own and the world's lie that we were made for a god of our own choosing. Ultimately we believe we were made for ourselves, we worship our own desires and designs, and then feel cold, alone, and dead all while also feeling happy in our idolatry. It is a confused, strange, unfortunate matter indeed. We were never made to be our own gods and we were never made to be cold and alone and darkened, but of course, how could you be anything but that outside the favor of God? Friends, we were made by God for God. The meaning of life and the true nature of the good life we know we were created to live in is that human beings would glorify God and enjoy Him as their chief pleasure.
This has many implications, but one of them is that we were created to be very happy. Better still, we were made to be joyful in God. Our sin broke that and made us instead alienated from God. Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death for all who will believe brings the believer back into joy in God. They step back into Eden. When we believe upon Jesus, our sins are forgiven, we are counted just and blameless in Him, and we are welcomed into the favorable presence of God. This is why Christmas is a holiday that when properly observed is saturated with the glory of Heaven. It is peculiarly about ultimate joy, new life, and renewal in the One for whom it is named.
Realize that while common graces are good gifts of God to mankind that He loves, Christmas is about the greatest and most unique and wondrous gift of grace that has ever come to us from God. Trees, lights, food, peppermint mochas, friends and family, snow, and beautiful music are good. But Jesus Christ and the "light and life" that He brings is supremely good. At Christmas, glory that "He appeared" and let your soul not necessarily feel it's worth, but His amazing worth. At Christmas, celebrate Jesus. My plea with you all is "come let us adore Him," the one who above all is to be adored and we were created to adore forever. At Christmas, let your new heart in Christ rest on a silent and holy night; He's made life a sacred enterprise for you. At Christmas, be glad that He has loved you and had mercy on you and that for eternity your soul will sing "Gloria, in excelsis Deo!"
Though early, I wish you very well and emphasize the first word in the next statement. Merry Christmas!