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Christmas and the incarnation of the Son of God

December 11, 2012 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)

What kind of a God would choose to enter a broken and hostile world as a baby, vulnerable and completely dependent upon others for everything? What kind of deity would pick an unwed, teenage mother as the one to carry the eternal Son of God? Why would He choose a dirty stable as the place to be born, a manger as a bassinet? Why have the first visitors be unclean shepherds and pagan astrologers instead of loving family and friends? And why have this baby live with his parents as a refugee in Egypt for the first months of his life?

Because our God is not just an awesome God – He is a humble God as well.

John 3:16 is a well-known verse, where Jesus tells the Pharisee Nicodemus that eternal life comes from believing in Jesus, the one and only Son of God. But John 3:17 is just as important, and speaks directly to Christmas and how Jesus chose to come into this world. John 3:17 tells us that our world is broken, fallen, in rebellion against God. But instead of remaining in heaven, enjoying the perfect love of the Father and the Spirit, the eternal Son of God came to our broken world. And instead of coming in judgment, to condemn us for our sinful rebellion, Jesus came to save the world, to rescue us from our condition.

And so, I exhort you as Paul did in Philippians 2:1-11:

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

To follow Jesus as our Lord means that when we see people who are sinful, suffering, or broken, we do not abandon them, nor do we judge and condemn them. No – we go to them. We love them. We serve them. We give to them. And, if necessary, we lay down our lives for them. What does this mean practically? Visit a nursing home. Sponsor a child overseas. Go on a mission trip. Love someone with a mental illness or physical handicap. Befriend someone who has a difficult personality. Adopt a child. Forgive someone who has hurt you. Stay committed to someone who needs love and grace. You will suffer, I promise. You will have to sacrifice. It will be difficult. But it is the way of Jesus, the Son of God who became a baby, born to a teenage mother, birthed in a stable, visited by shepherds, a refugee, a suffering servant, our crucified Lord.

May this be your prayer this Christmas season:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

- St. Francis of Assissi:

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