Tuesday, December 4, 2012
25 Days of Christmas Presence—Day 4
Stay with me?
We both come from broken backgrounds. Ones of failed marriages and severed relationships.
We just wanted to belong. To be wanted. We longed to belong to someone. To be a treasured wife or husband. We wanted someone to stay with us because they loved us, not just because of duty or obligation.
Deep down we tend to believe that because of God’s character he was obligated to save us. Duty-bound to love us. We tend to believe that he looked down at us and shook his head in disgust and turned to heaven’s court and declared that he would have to do something about our degenerated, sinful, ugly selves.
We, somewhere in our depths, understand that God is a holy God. He requires perfection (we’ll discuss this later in our journey towards Christmas) and that he will tolerate nothing less. Often we feel disconnected from him because he seems to require and expect too much. Because of this picture of God we have decided he is unreasonable. So, why bother?
We have heard it said that God is love, but we can’t seem to reconcile him with this demanding and exacting God. I have been told that the god of the Old Testament cannot be the same one who fathered Jesus in the New. And when these words left my friend’s mouth, I wept.
The birth of Jesus—this holiday we celebrate—breaks down all these misconceptions, all these lies the enemy has stealthily and covertly inserted into our religious history.
The birth of Jesus—this ordinary event of a child entering this world —was God’s declaration of his intent. It was the manifestation of his ancient and eternal plan. It was his way of saying I will stay with you.
It is a revelation of his character.
Contrary to religious thought, God did not send Jesus simply because he was disgusted with us. He did not send Jesus because he was vehemently ready to annihilate man from creation.
God sent Jesus because he wanted his people back. He sent Jesus as a ransom* for his treasured possession**. He sent Jesus to redeem the crown of his creation***.
But often we don’t believe it.
God did not send Jesus to appease his disgust (Yes, God hates sin. All of Scripture attests to this truth, but he does not hate us), but he sent Jesus so we could be adopted as His children.
I weep now even as I type. When I found my answer in Ephesians I was stunned. It is God’s good pleasure to save us. Not just his obligation. Not just his duty. Not just an appeasement for our sin. Not just a requirement for his holiness. No, it was his good pleasure and will to make us his people.
God sent Jesus so his Presence would dwell among us. Live among us. Stay with us. He sent Jesus so that we might once again become the people of God. We would belong to him.
With Paul I declare that God is to be praised for this glorious grace!
You see, God is holy. He is an exacting God. He is perfect. But if these were his only characteristics then we would have no hope. Futility would reign. Despair would overcome us.
But the grace, oh, the beautiful grace of God, comes because He knew we could never meet these expectations. We could never measure up to the standard.
But He is also love. The deepest core of his character is love. Not our culture’s warped definition and tarnished version of love. Not the shadow, but the reality of love. And in that great love, he sent Jesus to do what we could not.
That was and is grace.
Because of the presence of God through Jesus we can be his chosen people. A people saved by grace, held by mercy and compelled by love.
Christmas, the birth of Jesus into our world, is the revelation of God’s character to his people.
God was willing in all his perfect holiness and perfection to come in humility and slide down into the trenches with us, to live in the hovels with us, to dwell in the ghettoes with us, to stay with us.
That doesn’t sound like duty or obligation to me. That sounds like love.
Sounds to me like God is staying with his people.
Father, thank you that you want us to be your people. Thank you that you sent your Son in order for this to be possible. Thank you that you were and are sovereign and humble enough to come to us. And as always you go far beyond—you stayed with us. Teach us to be your people: to be a marked people who look like Jesus. And in this Christmas season enable us to show the reality, not the shadow of your love to others. Amen
Daily Activity: Read Ephesians 1:3-10
Find (ask God to highlight them in your thoughts) someone today to whom you can show and extend His good pleasure. This extension could be through spending time with them, sending a note, an intentional act of kindness, a text, a phone call, a message (handwritten or facebook) and then pray for them.
** treasured possession