It's weird to think that millions of Christians are celebrating a holiday that many, many other people celebrate who are not Christians -- and they are celebrating in the same manner...lots of bling and blitz, and gifts, and food and drink, and parties and fancy clothing and so forth and so forth and so forth.
Anyway, God has been calling me away from all this overindulgence. It's really not the kind of worship He wants, and it gets me in debt and takes my focus off of Him, which really doesn't give Him any glory.
Yesterday, though, at church, the message my pastor shared stopped me dead cold in my tracks when he spoke about what Christmas really means, really means, not just the famous Jesus' birthday line: God Incarnate - God in the Flesh.
The God of all creation decided (the moment He knew that man would not be able to live without sinning) that He would take on human flesh and be born to a woman; He'd live a sinless life and give that life as a sacrifice to pay the price for every individual who ever lived on this planet.
When He chose Mary as the woman through which He would work this miracle, He changed her life forever! He changed it by choosing her in view of her purity and virginity and changed her life from a youth with a more or less carefree life (of course, she had chores and responsibilities similar go all other young Jewish girls) to a woman with a questioned morality.
I can hardly think of something that changes a person more profoundly than giving birth and having a child to parent and raise to maturity, and, she had to be changed everyday of his life due to living in such close contract with one who was sinless and perfectly holy.
John 19:25 tells us that Mary was standing at the foot of the cross. As I contemplate being the mother of the one who was crucified, I feel sure that there was no more life-changing moment in her life as that one. To see your child naked, bleeding, beaten, mocked and nailed to a cross - who could bear it? Then, to know that it was God's plan for his life and it was done for the world, including yourself; well, that surely would make you look at your life, your sin and everything else in a much different light.
We ALL, like or not, admit it or not, SIN. The price of sin is death. He paid the price on that day in Jerusalem when He went to the cross willingly and died.
When you believe that He is/was who He said He was/is, proclaim it to the world and do as He said by picking up your cross and living a life similar to the one He did (a life of denying yourself, loving others and serving them), His sacrifice is accounted on your behalf and you are restored to your original, right relationship with God. Then begins your quest to "work out" your salvation with fear and trembling (but that's another post).
God Incarnate is what is truly being celebrated, and when you look at what God Incarnate is, you realize this is something that should be celebrated everyday of your life, not in a buying, eating, drinking, partying frenzy.
I am going to re-print here a portion of The Omega Letter from November 30. It is written by Pete Garcia and is entitled "Conspiracy Theory" (the sub-heading is "The Original Conspiracy") and I feel it is very valuable information to take in:
I pray that this year, you will put away your credit card, pull out your Bible and get to know the One who came and whose short 33 year life changed the world like no other man...the man named Jesus...God Incarnate!
The Original Conspiracy
This is the part of the brief that the skeptics will laugh and point and say how silly I am that I believe in a real Devil. This is the part of the brief that even the John Stossels and Glenn Becks of the world conveniently leave out. Not saying they don’t believe in a real Devil, but they can’t state it publically for fear of losing what credibility they do have. Since I don’t have any credibility, save Jesus Christ, I’ll just state the obvious.
If you believe the Bible is true, and you accept that there is a real God, real Jesus, real angels, real Biblical events, etc. Then why do so many have a hard time believing the Devil is also real? Not only is he real, but he has been real busy. From the first book of the Bible (chronologically), we have an account that dates to the time around of Abraham—2000 B.C.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Job 1:6-7All the way to the first century A.D., the Apostle Peter tells us to…
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8These two verses reveal to us some important aspects that we need to bear in mind. First is that Satan is not omnipotent. He can’t be everywhere at once. Secondly, Satan doesn’t sleep, doesn’t stop, he is always restless, always going about seeking to kill, destroy, and attempt to thwart God’s overarching plan. Satan has known since the Garden of Eden and that God had a plan afoot; a plan of redemption for mankind, and certain destruction for him. This is why the Bible revealed God’s plan progressively to over 40 different men, from different countries, and differing professions, and spread out over 1,600 years, to keep this plan as cryptic, yet specific as possible.
Now as a Christian, reading the Scriptures some 2,000 years later, I had always assumed that Satan really knew who Jesus was. But the more I study it, the more I’m willing to bet that Satan had his eye more on John the Baptist, than on Jesus as the likely candidate for the One who would destroy him. Maybe John was a decoy of sorts. He was meant to be a distraction, not for man, but specifically for Satan. It is why from before his birth, John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit and Jesus wasn’t until His baptism at around the age of 30. It’s why John devoted his life to the ministry of God long before Jesus officially began His.
Maybe this is why Jesus asked His disciples who men thought He was…and they gave a myriad of answers except Peter. Maybe this is why Jesus said of John;
“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matt. 11:11)Maybe this is why the Kingdom was preached publically in parable form, not only fulfilling the prophets, but to keep the plan moving forward undetected. The Apostle Paul understood the delicate nature of Christ’s ministry.
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 1 Corinthians 2:7-8Assessment
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12The real conspiracy is not at the political level, but the spiritual one. It is fought by influence and coercion, through spiritual fear and blackmail. Satan and his legion have known since Christ’s resurrection that they have already lost the war. Satan saw the religious system that God gave the Jews through Moses which was possibly the most complex and strictest ever created. The last thing he expected was that God Himself would become a man, and allow Himself to be killed to permanently bridge the gap between God’s unapproachable righteousness, and man’s incurable depravity.
They would have never killed Christ if they had known what it would mean…permanent liberation for mankind from hell and death. This is why Jesus kept His true identity hidden and only revealed it to certain people at certain times. Remember, Satan is not omnipotent so he couldn’t be everywhere at once. Jesus knew when and where He could reveal this, without revealing it to the one who would attempt to spoil the plan of redemption.