Devotion: Christmas Love
Pastor Aaron Mueller
One of my members, in particular, loves the Christmas time of year. For him, it can’t come early enough. Ask him to shop at a store that has early Christmas displays, and he’ll even offer to drive. Walk with him through the aisles of endless ornate trinkets, tinseled trees, and diabolically situated candy treats and a noticeable tear will come to his eyes. He loves Christmas, the Christmas season, Christmas shopping, and Christmas spending. And so every year the church waits to see how large his love is, by the size of the bills.
But what individual eyes can’t see on the surface is his depth of love. The meaning and message of Christmas don’t get lost in the load of his cart. For him to decorate a building or room is nothing less than to adorn the Savior with praise. There’s nothing generic or general about the time of year. Christmas is about the Lord our Creator fleshing out his promise to save the world from sin. That gift is named Jesus.
Not everyone understands it. Not everyone desires it. Walk down the card aisle and you will find all sorts of creatively made mixed messages. Happy Holidays! Seasons’ Greetings! Others emphasize peace on earth without peace with God. I still have not met the spirit of the season, but it wishes me warmth and kindness. Some come close by calling it the season of love but upon opening it for the description the card is blank. How embarrassing! When God gives his love to the world in Jesus and that message is left lukewarm or even left out!
These messages not only negatively impact God’s message, they negatively impact us. The untimely and pervasive influx of gimmicky greetings, shallow slogans, and Christmas-less messages always grabs for our spiritual affection. It waits under the mistletoe of false teaching to give away the devil’s kiss of death. And in the exchange, it acts as a vacuum to suck more than dollars through sales, but ultimately our very souls.
That isn’t the way God describes the event or its meaning. Christmas is not about vague this or general that. Nor does it need any extra human inventions. Instead, Christmas is about the son God dressed down and gifted to us. Jesus had no glory flashing around him as he entered the world through birth. He had human skin, bones, and blood. Though hundreds of years of advertising through Scripture announced his arrival, there were no long lines waiting to greet him. In fact, there were no lines at all. And the lodging he found that night was in a feeding trough without any deluxe features.
Did God get it wrong? Did he have the date right? The location? No, he had it right. Paul wrote: But when the time had fully come, God sent his son, born of woman born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons (Galatians 4:4,5).
Can you imagine any reason why God might give this beautiful gift at such a time, place, and manner? There is only one answer: God’s love for you. The child who came humbly, without glory and departs the same came for you. God draws a bold line connecting his gift at Christmas to his gift on the cross. Jesus came to redeem, or buy you back from sin’s slavery. And his desire through Jesus’ payment was to adopt you as a member of his family.
Is there anything that comes close to expressing that love displayed in this passage? “Season’s Greetings” simply gives no greeting. “Happy Holidays” identifies no spiritual holy day. With these Christ the Savior is not clearly proclaimed. When society cuts Jesus from the message they only sever themselves from their Savior’s eternal love! But where Jesus isn’t generic and the message not mixed, sinners clearly see their gracious and forgiving God. They have more than the season of love or the spirit of Christmas, they have Christ.
And the gift of love God gave will show in their lives. Christians don’t just put outdoor lights on display, they display Jesus as the light of their lives. No, we can’t add to his glory or make him greater than he already is. Instead, God leads us to adorn him by telling the message. The season and message of Christmas offer us just that.
As my member excitedly hits the stores, he decorates for the Lord of his heart to spread the message of Christ. And he knows the garland, tinsel, lights, and ornaments will never reflect heavenly love the way God intends until they proclaim God’s intent. Like him, let’s keep the message clear. God brought Christ to us to bring us back to God. That’s authentic Christmas love.
May 4, 2018
August 31, 2017