Merry Christmas everyone! I hope that everyone’s morning and time with family has been awesome. For those of you that this Christmas is a bit different or this Christmas doesn’t carry the same nostalgia or feeling of joy that it has in the past, I pray you find your hope and joy in knowing that today we celebrate the visible incarnation of hope in Jesus Christ.
Every year I feel like Christmas carries a different meaning and a different emphasis in my own life and the life of my family. Last year it was really impressed upon my heart the necessity to remember that gifts are just a shadow of the ultimate gift we have in Christ. Years before that The Lord really pressed me to remember that giving is far more exemplary of the Gospel than receiving.
This year, With the addition of Emma Katherine to our family, it has been especially different. She’s caused us to think and rethink things and additions we have done for years. She’s made us change, for the better, many things that needed changing for years and years. By and large adding a child to your family Christmas traditions do a really good job of taking the focus off of you and a really good job of helping me realize many of my selfish tendencies.
Having a child around causes you to think about every song you sing, every game you play during Christmas, and every tradition you’ve always done up to this point. Thinking about the dynamics behind the naughty and nice list brought up some really good points for my own sanctification that I felt like the Lord really used to press me toward the Gospel in a different way this Christmas.
Growing up we all feared the naughty and nice list. As a child the Santa fear factor in me, at least for a month, had me doing my best to stay on the nice list. In many ways I think I have always believed there to be an existence of a naughty and nice list. The hope that I could gain some sort of gift by my good deeds has always been a sinful tendency of my heart. My doing my absolute best to stay on Santa’s good side, in many ways, was just a reflection of my own desire to stay on God’s good side. What I realize this year, especially in considering Emma, is that there is the existence of a naughty and nice list. More theologically correct, it’s a list of those who are righteous and those who are unrighteous. Unfortunately we’re all on the naughty list. Despite our best efforts and despite what any Christmas song tells us, Romans 3, Romans 6, and Psalm 51 reminds us very pointedly that even on our best days we fall vastly short of the perfect righteousness required by God. Quite frankly, in David’s own words, we were born naughty, and even our best attempt at being nice fall short.
Luckily there’s Christmas. Luckily God in his mercy looked down on our condition and sent a solution. For the last three weeks we have written on the blog about that solution. The solution that came in the form of a child in Bethlehem and a solution that will come back one day to finish what God started. There is a naughty and nice list and the reality is that the repercussions for being on the naughty list are far greater than receiving coal in your stocking. However the truth of the Gospel is that Jesus, the only person ever to be and remain the “nice list”, made a way for us to stand before God wearing His perfect righteousness because He took on our “naughtiness.”
This Christmas I find a lot of joy and a lot of hope and a lot of rest in knowing that my incapacity for good and my inability to sustain the type of righteousness that God demands isn’t required. God saw my incapacity. God saw my weakness and responded. He responded by sending a solution. He responded with Christmas. I pray this Christmas that each of you remembers and takes solace in knowing that God’s love for you is not dependent on your capacity to follow a list of do’s and don’ts. His love for you is 100% founded in the person and work of Jesus Christ. From His birth in Bethlehem to his resurrection at Easter. We can find great hope in knowing that His work on our behalf took us out of eternal unrighteousness and placed us in the fold of God underneath His perfect, eternal righteousness.