Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Contrasts

I want to share something my mother wrote and then shared at her work during their chapel service. Christmas can be a time of hustle-bustle, running around shopping, etc... even for Christians. It's so awesome to stop and really think about what Jesus did for us, how that gift continues giving over and over and the magnificent inheritance we have in Him.

My mom (Lyn Thompson) is an amazing writer, among other things. I love the way her mind works and this article is proof positive that she draws me closer to God every time I talk with her. What an incredible attribute! I wish I could say the same about me. This list will become an annual thing for my family to stop, read and reflect and hopefully draw us further into the Word for God to continue revealing what His Son has done for all of us. Enjoy.

Christmas Contrasts and Comparisons

Today, as we take a bit of time to meditate on Christmas and its meaning, I’d like to help you think about some of the amazing contrasts and comparisons available to us in Christmas and Christ’s coming. Hopefully, these will give you a richer perspective on this season, on this event -- on this gift of God -- that will open Christmas to you in ways you’ve not experienced in the past.

He was born in a stable – that we might inherit His mansions. Jesus left the riches of heaven to be born in the meanness of a stable, so that one day, those who follow Him might live with Him in the mansions He’s preparing for those who love Him.

He was born away from home – that we might always have a place with Him. Jesus left His home in heaven … and He wasn’t even able to be born in His parents’ home in Galilee … to remind us that we are sojourners here – wanderers here on earth – and that our home is with Him, when we turn from our sin to receive His forgiveness and grace. He left His home to become our Savior that we might always be received, accepted and at home with Him.

He was born in the form of a servant – that we might rule with Him. Both at His birth and at His death, He was surrounded by the roughness of wood and simple cloth rather than the gold, satins and thrones Kings deserve. He reminds us that serving others is at the heart of ruling the universe. Our lives here are an apprenticeship to prepare us for ruling in eternity with Him.

He was born in obscurity – that we might have His light. Jesus, the Light of the World, the Bright Morning Star and the One who lights our way, entered a world darkened by sin and evil. And He entered in the dark of night, barely noticed, so that He might light our way and make us light for those who still live without Him.

He was born in poverty – that we might be made rich. Christ’s coming at Christmas threw the doors of heaven wide open to those who receive Him as Lord and Savior … even though the doors of the inn were shut to Him and Mary and Joseph when they were seeking shelter. “Behold, the Kingdom of God is at hand; it has come,” Jesus later told His listeners. The Kingdom of God supplies us with all we need to live richly, regardless of monetary wealth.

He was born in filth – that we might be cleansed. Jesus, called Wonderful and the Rose of Sharon, the Sweet Savior and Fragrance of life, was born in a dirty, foul-smelling stable. Jesus who is clean, enables us the unclean to become clean when He takes up residence in our lives and transforms our lives.

He was born in humility – that we might experience His glory. Jesus, the Author of All Life, came to earth as a Servant, to lay down His life and die for all. Jesus, the head of all things, completely sovereign and with all authority, was born a child under the authority of earthly parents, and Hebrews tells us that He who is perfect was perfected in His flesh through obedience and the things He suffered. As we surrender our lives in obedience to Him, we experience His glory in our lives, and it shines through us to a sin-sick and needy world.

He was born into limitations as a man – that we might partake of His divine nature. Jesus, limitless in power, knowing no boundaries, who created all things and holds all things together, limited Himself within the boundaries of human flesh when He was born as an infant and then wrapped in swaddling clothes, tying his arms and legs to his sides. Those swaddling clothes which held His arms and legs to His sides were a precursor to the nails which would later hold His arms and legs to the cross. Jesus, the gift of God, came wrapped, not in paper for us to unwrap and hold, but in human flesh to unwrap us from the sin, pretense and masks of our lives so that we might recognize our need and come to Him to be reborn by His Spirit.

He was born emptying Himself – that we might be filled with the wonders of His grace. Scripture tells us Jesus, the King of Kings, deserving of all praise, honor, worship and glory, left heaven and the rights and privileges of the Triune Godhead, emptied Himself and became a servant, that by His obedience to the Father, we might be filled up with the wonders of His unmerited favor, His amazing grace, for every need we might ever have and to become whole and complete as God made us to be.

He was born to know hatred – that we might know love. Despised, rejected, betrayed by those He came to, He endured it all that we might know the true, unconditional, self-sacrificing love of God.

He was born of no reputation – that we might be adopted by God the Father. Jesus, adopted by His earthly father, with an earthly lineage of prostitutes, murderers, liars and adulterers, makes the way for us, with similar lineage, to be adopted by our perfect Heavenly Father and to have reconciliation with God and a new family line.

He was born to a virgin – that we might experience a miraculous rebirth. A miraculous birth on earth – fully God and fully man -- so that you and I might hear Him say to us, “You must be born again, of the Spirit of God, so that you can become a new creation – no longer a slave to sin, now free to become all God created you to be.

He was rejected – that we might be accepted. Jesus, born of an unmarried teenage virgin who was rejected herself for an act of God upon her life when she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit with Jesus, gives us a picture of the rejection Jesus Himself would face for the work and purpose of God – all so that we might be forgiven of our sin and accepted by God.

He was born with a common name – that we might know Him as Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He wasn’t the first man called Jesus, nor the last, but by coming to earth as a common man, Jesus took the transcendent God – the higher than all things, greater than all things, almighty, above all God – and enabled us to experience Him through His imminence – Emmanuel, God with us – when He came in human flesh. He gave evidence that God is involved in the nitty gritty details of our lives, the dirt, the commonplace, the daily situations of census, tax-collecting, oppression, abuse, rejection and difficulty of our lives. He enables us to know Him in our need and find our resources in Him.

He was born to fulfill prophecy – that we might believe God. You’d think the birth of God’s Son would be publicized or announced by God in every place to every person, and especially to everyone of prominence and significance, on the face of the globe … but, no, this most momentous birth in history, which would affect every life ever lived, was announced by almost forgotten prophecies, a silent star in the sky and a choir of angels seen only by a few shepherds – society outcasts – people considered dishonest, often of lower character. Those prophecies and God’s faithfulness in sending His promised Messiah enable us to place our faith in a God who keeps His Word and is true to His character.

He was born into chaos – that we might know peace. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and the only One through Whom there’s freedom from oppression and victory over evil, was born into a chaotic cultural setting at a time of great oppression for the Jewish people. His peace doesn’t start with an end to all oppression and all wars and by altering man’s outer behavior for a short time. It starts by changing the heart and character of a man, resulting in lasting change of behavior for all eternity.

He was born at an appointed time – that we might escape the bonds of time and live with Him for eternity. God does nothing haphazardly … there is an appointed time for everything … for each and every circumstance on earth. Jesus came at God’s appointed time that we might one day no longer be bound by age and health and finite things, but that we might live eternally with God with new bodies in a world that surpasses anything we can ever imagine.

He was born to be the payment for our sin – that we might be purchased and set free. Whereas the birth of babies are generally celebrated on earth with no thought of a later death, Jesus’ birth was planned from eternity past as the necessary preliminary event for the main purpose of His life – His death on the cross for the sins of mankind. At His birth, He was heralded as the Savior, the Deliverer, the Redeemer of His people, titles He received because He was to die in our place.

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