Summary: A simple message to help us understand the incredible depth of the love of God in the birth of Jesus and his purpose in sending him so we might have a real and personal relationship with him (rather than knowing about him).
As I was praying and preparing for this message, I knew what God had placed on my heart to share, but I couldn’t come up with any clever, cute, funny stories like I’ve had in the past. Tonight, I’m just going to shoot straight with you if I may. It’s like on those rare occasions when I do drink coffee I just want it straight up, none of that sugar and creamer stuff.
At Christmas our minds begin reflecting on Jesus and his birth in a manger long ago. Jesus, this precious child, was God’s gift to us. Jesus, was God’s tangible way of demonstrating his love to help us. 1 John 4:9-10 tells us:
1 John 4:9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. 10 This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Imagine that, while people thumbed their nose at God, treated him indifferently, ignored him, he loved us anyway and in a great demonstration of his love he sent his only Son, who himself willing chose to leave the beauty and perfection of heaven to enter into our world to be born like one of us, to experience and live like one of us, and die a criminals death for our sin, so we might have life. When John writes of life he’s talking about two things. 1) he is talking about eternal life, living forever with him in heaven, which is something we cannot earn on our own good deeds, but receive as a gift, like our presents at Christmas. 2) But he is also referring to having life more abundantly (John 10:10), life without sin, life without hurting others, life without hurting ourselves, life without self-centeredness and pride, life with hope, life with love (I’m talking real unselfish, giving love, Godlike love), life with peace, life with joy. At Christmas we celebrate this gift to all humanity. A gift for me, a gift for you. Jesus was the light entering our world as one of us so we could leave the darkness and enter into the light.
What troubles me, is that while people have pulled out their Christmas decorations, including their nativities and setting them up in a prominent place in their home, and celebrating the birth of Jesus with Christmas parties with family, friends, and coworkers and worship services, they are missing the true message of Christmas in their lives. The message of Christmas is that God loves us and cares about us; you, me, the guy down at the bar, the drug dealer, the people on drugs, the abused, the abuser, the couple going through a divorce, the couple thinking of divorce, the woman who just lost her mother, the guy who just lost his job. God loves us all, and he doesn’t want to see us suffer from our sin, from us hurting ourselves and others with our words and actions, to be distant from himself so he sent his one and only Son into the world to do what we cannot do on our own, to change us from the inside out, to give us life.
In the last year I have heard of youth, young men and women in our own community, being addicted to drugs, even dying because of it. Alcohol abuse continues to run rampant destroying lives, families, friendships. People can’t seem to control their anger or their tongue, hurting each other, husbands and wives going after each other, kids are caught in the middle, divorce, then there’s those quietly dealing with loneliness, fear, worry, grief.
It pains me to see so many people missing out on the life God gave us in Jesus. While people celebrate the birth of Jesus tomorrow they will then turn around and continue to hurt, hate, abuse, get drunk, fear, worry, or live in apathy without a purpose or direction, when God has given us life abundantly through his Son. There are many in our own community, perhaps even here in this room tonight, who are not experiencing the kind of life God sacrificed to give us in Jesus.
The Good News of the birth of Jesus was that God sent a Savior into the world to deliver us from our sins, our selfishness, our inward focus, our pride to give us life. The angel said to Joseph, Mary is pregnant by the Holy Spirit and you shall call his name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. God made a way to restore our broken relationship with himself and with other people. God wants to begin working within us, carving out our heart of stone which causes our sad life, and replace it with a heart of flesh, of love for God and others.