Summary: No one understood free forgiveness

A misunderstanding has occurred among many over the last few centuries. Throughout the last century, the meaning and understanding of the greatest gift in human history has been missed and may be lost all together. Every year that passes by brings with it the negativity and lack of truth that the years before it had gathered up. Today we stand on the eve of the biggest history changing event ever. Of course, today we also stand on the busiest and craziest last minute shopping day in the universe. On that note there is a story about one harried woman and some last minute shopping. “I heard a story about a woman who was doing her last-minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall. She was tired of fighting the crowds. She was tired of standing in lines. She was tired of fighting her way down long aisles looking for a gift that had sold out days before. Her arms were full of bulky packages when the Elevator door opened. It was full.

The occupants of the Elevator grudgingly tightened ranks to allow a small space for her and her load. As the doors closed she blurted out, “Whoever is responsible for this whole Christmas thing ought to be arrested, strung up, and shot!” A few others nodded their heads or grunted in agreement.” – K. Edward Skidmore

Frustration and weariness occur for many throughout the season known as the happiest of the year. Maybe you’ve felt flustered and frustrated this year in the face of all the craziness that has been going on. We hear in the news of horror stories where people start riots and attack other people for the last tickle-me Elmo or the last 500 dollar laptop at Wal-Mart. I wonder what went wrong with this holiday we enjoy each year. Somewhere along the lines a misunderstanding has taken place. The joy and passion of the Christmas season has faded behind a misty veil of Santas and packaged gifts with wrapping paper covering each one. They now make the manger scene in almost any form you could ever want it in. I am waiting to see dancing elves and maybe even a beach scene as the scene of the birth of Christ.

God knew this would happen. He knew mankind would soon forget the most momentous occasion in all of history. John 1:5 tells of how Jesus would come and would be received. “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” They could not possibly fathom how Jesus would come and work. However more can be said about man’s misunderstandings. Paul tells the Corinthians that many would not understand and for obvious reasons. “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has no God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” I love this passage because of what it reflects about the human heart and what I see in it. This sounds exactly like my brother Jeremy. He has tried and tried to understand intellectually and has always failed. The works of God make absolutely no sense to him. Why did he die to save people when he could have just stayed alive forever healing people in the world? He did stay alive forever, Jeremy just doesn’t understand that. How can God be a human and why would he? Maybe you have these same questions. I hope today we can correct some of these misunderstandings of the gift of Christmas.

You may be thinking that I am referring to Jesus Christ, and you are not entirely wrong. In a world filled with evil and darkness where anger and frustration abound and people are constantly being hurt and abused both emotionally and physically, one man brought light and hope and joy. However, he brought something a little more powerful and little more life changing that just hope. He brought forgiveness. God’s gift to mankind was not a cross, and not a tomb. Jesus didn’t run around in a red suit with a beard and a belly handing out gifts and listening to Christmas lists. God sent down to earth on that infamous day, a baby that would bring forgiveness to the world. So many people in the Bible have something to say but none say anything other than the purpose of the birth of Christ.

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