Summary: The meaning of Christmas can be summed up in two verses. The first is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The second is this: “Here I am! I stand a
Scandalously Amazing Love
On Christmas Day, Mike Nicholas, a tall and slim young man with dark hair was making his way south on I-85 just below High Point, NC trying to hitch a ride. For two years, he hadn’t been home. His family had heard nothing from him. He and his mother had a disagreement and he had set off across the country, going from town to town, from odd job to odd job. He was the prodigal son but now he was ready to go home. He had only 30 miles to go but a ride was hard to come by. As he stood by the side of the road, he said to himself, “Mom, I’m tired and hungry, but I’m coming home.” The cold wind blew and a few trucks rumbled by. Then from across the road, Mike heard his name called. To his surprise, it was his stepfather waving and calling to him from his truck. Mike ran across the highway as his stepfather said, “Get in Mike, we’re going home.” Mike tossed his bag in the back of the truck and embraced his stepfather. “How did you happen to be here?” His stepfather said, “I came to pick you up. Drove straight here.” But how did you know I’d be here? I didn’t write or call.” “Your mother sent me. Just this morning in her prayers for you, she knew you were coming and that you...” would be right here. The two looked at each other without saying a word. “She’s waiting for you son. Let’s go.”
Christmas is about a God who so loves his children so much that He came to bring us back home into a loving and intimate relationship with Him. The meaning of Christmas can be summed up in two verses. The first is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The second is this: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” But here’s the most amazing thing: this God knows all of our sins and all of our shortcomings. We’re pretty good at hiding our imperfections from one another but we can’t hide our stuff from God. We are fully exposed to God and yet in spite of all our junk, God comes for us to bring us home.
Part of the mystery and wonder of Christmas is experienced in those moments when we are confronted with our true selves and our sins, when we really see the ugliness of our hearts and our lives, and we wonder, “How can God love me?” We hear about the grace of God and the unconditional love of God but the question we really struggle with is: “How can God want me? How can God love me?” When you think about it, this is irrational love. How could a perfect and holy God who knows the worst of the worst of us still love us and want us? We, who have rebelled, turned our backs on God, disobeyed his will and followed our own path, are still recipients of God’s loves as He desperately pursues us to return home to Him.
This irrational love is illustrated through an obscure prophet named Hosea in 720 BC. God says to Hosea, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife, this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” Now picture this for just a moment. You are told to marry a woman you know is going to be unfaithful to you. That’s setting you up for a lifetime of hurt and pain. And yet, that is exactly where God is with us. God has tied himself to us and this command to Hosea is an example of his scandalous, irrational love towards us. Even though He knows we will sin and rebel and cheat on Him by placing other things and other people first in our lives, God has tied and bound himself to us in unconditional love. He has not only chosen us but he has chosen to always claim and love us no matter what we do or what we fail to do. And Israel time and again proves to be a willful bride choosing to do her will rather than God’s and choosing others to be the god of their lives, turning to them for love, meaning and purpose.
Why would God choose to love and be in relationship with such a people? The answer is: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And God has not only chosen to be in relationship with us, he has chosen to be in a covenant relationship with them. Now when you enter into a covenant relationship, you have committed to be in a faithful relationship no matter what happens. So Hosea does exactly what God says and marries Gomer and what does she do? She pursues multiple relationships, with just about everyone except the one she is covenanted to. She has children by multiple men. And even worse, she becomes a prostitute in the stable of a pimp.