By show of hands, and I know we are not afraid to raise our hands, how many remember having to write an essay in elementary school entitled “What Christmas Means to Me?” My best friend, Robert, went on ad nauseum about socks: black socks, athletic socks, argyle socks. Robert has retired from the Marine Corp as a Colonel and lives in Iowa now as an attorney so it is safe to say Christmas means something other than socks for him today.
When Charlie Brown asked for the meaning of Christmas, Linus van Pelt got up on stage, stood in a spotlight, and masterfully delivered an excerpt of Luke 2. In all the history of the Peanuts comic strips, films, and televised specials, the one and only time Linus willingly lets go of his security blanket is when he comes to Luke 2:10 and tells how the angel calms the shepherds with the words, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” but that will be a point for another day.
We must be mindful of the miracles without losing sight of the reason why. We have to remember the socks when we get dressed or the outfit will be incomplete. We have to remember His birth or the meaning of why He was here in the first place is lost.
Skip ahead with me to Luke chapter 20 where we will find the parable of the tenants. The landlord repeatedly sends servants to the tenants who are brutalized and rejected. As a last effort he sends his only son. He hopes the tenants will respect and accept his son but they murder him. Over the course of Old Testament history God has been sending Prophets to bring His people back unto Himself but the people reject these messengers time and again. After a four hundred year hiatus what happened? John 6:38 tells us. Jesus came down from Heaven to do the will of the Father. There is the who, the where, and most importantly the why.
What has God wanted since The Fall in Eden? He has been working tirelessly, because you cannot exhaust the omnipotent God, to bring each of us back to Himself. Adam and Eve knew they sinned so they hid and covered themselves in leaves. God went one further. He made a blood sacrifice and better coverings than they had made for themselves. People were blind over the centuries to the efforts made. By show of hands, and I know we are not afraid to raise our hands, how many remember Michelangelo’s painting on the ceiling at the Vatican? God and man are reaching out to each other. Think more closely. God’s arm and finger are fully extended, forcefully, commandingly, as if to say “you are the one lost soul that matters to Me”. The man’s arm and finger are limp like celery that has been in the fridge past its prime, leftover salad which should have been discarded days ago, as if to say “yeah, I know you’re there but it’s in my nature to take You for granted”.
Jesus came to reconcile all the world to the Father. He spent time with the sinful, the lost, the ones who needed Him most before becoming our blood sacrifice. A person with 20/20 vision does not need an ophthalmologist. It is the guy with the foreign body in his eye or the detached retina who needs the specialist. The church is not a place for the righteous. If it were, I would not be allowed in. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The church is a hospital for the broken.
What is the purpose of the church? We are, through the foolishness of preaching, as Paul puts it, to communicate the Gospel. The Gospel is the message of reconciliation. This is why He came in the first place. This is Christmas.
The Epistles give instruction to churches and individuals on how to live, worship, and conduct our lives. According to II Corinthians 5, the ministry of reconciliation is committed to each of us. The greatest of all the spiritual gifts, according to I Corinthians 13, is love. What greater gift can there be than hugging that person who was lost and is now found, giving them a shoulder to cry on, and being a support for them?
The happiest people are those who have invested time in others. The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. Reach out to someone. According to Matthew 5:22-24, we are to reconcile with a brother before coming to God. The true attitude of the Kingdom, according to Matthew 18:15, is to communicate one on one to gain a brother through reconciliation.
During this process two things will be discovered. The hard part is defeating human nature in that I is the least important word in human relations. The liberating part is finding the joy forgiveness brings in freeing us to interact positively with people.
Do not lose sight of the meaning behind the miracle. The meaning of Christmas does not come once a year. It happens whenever and wherever there is a need to reconcile one to another. We were first called Christians in Antioch because it was there people first acted like Christ. Today the term Christian has become diluted to mean any Gentile. Put the meaning back in Christian. Put the meaning back in Christmas. Live His example. Let your light so shine. Bring someone back to yourself as an example of God bringing people back to Himself. Let the Holy Ghost work through you to bring someone back to Him. If we believe the Gospel, we do must obey it.
Yitzhak (Isaac) N.