Summary: The wonder of Christmas is that God came and dwelt amongst us! In doing so He humbled and emptied Himself and came among us as the least of the least in order that we might know Him. By His life, He served us. By His death, He saved us. By His example
Knowing Him: An Example To Live By - Philippians 2:1-11 - December 18, 2011
Series: What’s Jesus Got To Do With Christmas? #2
One of the things I’ve always looked forward to as a parent are those opportunities to watch the kids participate in school productions such as the annual Christmas concert. For the last two years though I’ve been terribly disappointed – not in the children, not in the effort that everyone has put into it, not in the costumes, nor anything like that, but I’m disappointed in the theme of the concert itself. This year the play centered around Little Red Riding Hood, The Big Bad Wolf, and the Three Little Pigs. The message of the play? Books are good gifts to give at Christmas.
Santa of course had a significant role in each of these productions but nowhere, and at no time, was there ever any mention of Jesus. And this year, as last year, I sat in the audience and watched as class after class came up to do their bit, and my spirit called out to me one question over and over again: How many of these kids have no idea what Christmas is really all about?
See, God has been taken out of our schools and our schools are the poorer for it. The big push the last few years has been to take “Christ” out of “Christmas.” It’s no longer politically correct to wish someone a “Merry Christmas;” instead you’re supposed to wish them, “Happy Holidays.” Never let go of Christ, no matter how politically incorrect it becomes, because the truth is that every time we shut God out of a part of our lives, society as a whole is poorer for it. You could have asked any man, woman or child who saw that school play the other day, “What’s Jesus Got to do With Christmas?” and based on what they saw and heard there, they wouldn’t have been able to give you an answer.
So what does Jesus have to do with Christmas? That’s the question we asked and began to answer last week and it’s also the title of our Christmas series this year. Last week we were reminded that Jesus is the very heart, the very essence of Christmas. Without Christ there could be no Christmas for Jesus is called “Immanuel” which means “God with us.” In the birth of Christ, God was with in a whole new way and in the coming of Jesus the world experienced God’s love in an entirely different light.
This morning we discover that not only do we experience God’s love in a very real and profound way in Christmas, but that’s in Christmas that we’re shown how it is that we are to love one another, as well. Open your Bibles with me please to the book of Philippians. Philippians chapter 2, beginning in verse 1. This is one of the deepest and most stirring passages of Scripture we have and it is one of the core passages from which many of our beliefs about Jesus come to life. These are not, however, your typical Christmas verses and yet they tell the incredible story of the incarnation just the same. Philippians 2, verse 1 …
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:1–11, NIV)
Christmas is one of those times of year when families get together. Relatives you might not have seen since last Christmas gather together to eat and celebrate and to catch up with each other’s lives. And most of us are of two minds about that. On the one hand we enjoy seeing family but on the other it’s family and we know that when family gets together there are often tensions that arise or an extra measure of stress that crops up in the household. This of course destroys the joy and peace we were hoping. One of the reasons this happens is because we’re all different – we have different preferences, and habits and expectations. And on one level we know this, but deep down we believe that our way is the ‘right way’ and that no other way of doing things, or celebrating, or preparing is going to be quite as good as our own. When we all insist on our own way, our own expectations, our own preferences, our own purposes even, the unity in the family that we should be able to enjoy, is instead, destroyed.