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The Christ of Christmas

My Christmas devotional of choice for years now has been The Christ of Christmas by my former professor Calvin Miller. Here’s a few of my favorite quotes about advent that stick with me year end & year out.

“You shall not bear such pain alone”

We cannot live without bumps & pains, heartache & desolation, mosquito bites & cancer. The incarnation was God saying, “You shall not bear such pain alone”

“the noblest idea of any world religion”

The Incarnation is the noblest idea of any world religion. God did not watch human despair from the safety of heaven. He clothed Himself in humanity. He ceased watching the human war and became a soldier.

“wrestle with Him or rest in Him”

We basically have two choices to make in dealing with the mysteries of God. We can wrestle with Him or we can rest in Him. We can continue searching the unsearchable or relax in the reality. What exists at the end of all our searching will be a God who knows absolutely everything … and chooses to love us anyway.

God Is With Us

The Incarnation is the noblest idea of any world religion. God did not watch human despair from the safety of heaven. He clothed Himself in humanity. He ceased watching the human war and became a soldier.

Calvin Miller, in The Christ of Christmas

Give Presence: Living the Incarnation

from the Movie The Nativity Story, 2006.

The story of Christmas is foundational for understanding Christianity in so many ways. God sent his very best, his own Son Jesus Christ, the God-man, on a daring rescue mission. In need of rescue was the human race including you and I. The mission included a display of love that led to the willing death of an innocent Rescuer for the sake of those he loved. In the end, the Rescuer wins the day, defeating all the bad guys, including death, sin and guilt, and Satan (Colossians 2:13-15, Hebrews 2:14-15). Here’s the real kicker: Now God desires that we repeat the process of being sent, loving, sacrificing, and rescuing through announcing/retelling this story to all (John 21:20, Acts 1:8, Philippians 2:3-5). When God wanted to save the world, he sent himself. He GAVE PRESENCE. Today, he continues to GIVE PRESENCE to the world through those he has rescued.

Here’s three lessons we learn about Incarnational Living from God’s giving to us. These have become filters for our church as we seek to live with a missionary posture toward our community.

  1. God gave the gift of PROXIMITY. John 1:14 in the Message Paraphrase says, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” Jesus laid aside the privileges of deity to draw near to us, walk in our shoes, and die in our place. One of the great promises of Christmas is that we do not serve a God that’s distant, that’s removed from our problems and trials. He experienced them and He overcame them (Hebrews 4:15, John 16:33). Does your current lifestyle allow you to live in proximity to the needs of others? Does your church live out its mission in proximity to the needs of the community? Jesus went so much farther than, “they know where we are if they need us.” He was always touching those he wasn’t supposed to touch and sharing life with those he wasn’t supposed to share life with. In a world filled with lonely hearts, we need to give presence and live out the gift of proximity.
  2. God gave the gift of RESPONSIVENESS. God gave in response to our deepest need. To respond to the needs of others requires you to forget about yourself a bit. That’s exactly what Jesus did – Philippians 2:7 says, “he made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant.” Jesus didn’t have an entitlement mentality, and if anyone was ever justified in feeling entitled to privileges and perks it should have been the Son of God, but he had a SLAVERY mentality. Becoming the lowest of the low in response to my need. Does your current lifestyle and church culture allow you to be responsive to the needs of others? The priest and levite in the story of the Good Samaritan most likely had legitimate excuses for not responding to the needs of the man lying in the road with huge needs. They had busy schedules, there’s no time for this; they were in a bad part of town; they had no training in basic life support. It was the Samaritan that demonstrated to heart of God and responded to the needs, laying aside self and becoming a servant.
  3. God’s generosity was RADICAL. In the Christmas story we learn that God is a RADICAL GIVER. John 3:16 says it best, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” And we see in Philippians 2:8, that Jesus willing became a radical giver for you and I – “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” God held nothing back for you and I. He gave it all. What aspects of our lives can be considered radical? Is it in the area of generosity? In desire for God? In desire for others to know the truth?

God’s Big Give: Proximity, Responsiveness, Radical Generosity. The story of Christ and Christmas.

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