Christmas exists to remember and celebrate the first coming of Christ to a world in need of a savior. As a colleague at work said this week, he’d prefer to call it Incarnation Day instead of Christmas, but he’s right in suspecting that won’t catch on. While most biblical scholars agree that Jesus wasn’t born anywhere close to December 25, it’s still fitting to set aside a day to remember his coming and its purpose.
Christ has always existed. He didn’t come into being in that manger in Bethlehem. He always was and he always will be. All that we see and enjoy in this universe was created by him, including humankind.
Because humans willfully chose to rebel against a holy God, we suffered the just consequences of that sin, and our world has suffered death, deterioration and decay ever since. If left separated from a holy God at death, then the judge of the universe gives us the just reward (punishment) for our rebellion. Like wages earned from our jobs, it is the wage we earn for our unforgiven sunfulness.
But the God of the universe created us initially for right relationship with him. God loves us. It is not his will that anyone perish, but that all come to repentance. Therefore, he did what he did not have to do following our separation from him, and he chose to come in the form of a human – fully man and fully God – to live a perfect, sinless life, to suffer a horrible death that we deserved, and to rise again, conquering death.
The manger was never meant to be celebrated without also remembering the cross and what followed.
Through his selfless act, God has provided a way for the great chasm between God and men to be bridged. All that turn from their sin and place their trust solely in what Christ has done on their behalf, surrendering their will to his, can receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life.
Since today is Christmas, I will receive several gifts. I will take great pleasure in them and be grateful for the gift and the giver. But no gift can ever equal that offered by the Giver of life. His gift is eternal. His gift is truly life-changing. His gift changes one from the inside out. His gift is incomparable.
For those readers who already know Christ and have surrendered their lives to him, my wish for you is to continue growing in holiness and living life faithfully for him day by day. For all others on this Christmas Day – this Incarnation Day – my wish is that you will receive from our Creator his gift of repentance, of faith, of salvation, of eternal life, and that you will begin the transforming journey of becoming who you were created to be.
Now that would make for a very merry Christmas.