This year our Christmas at Shoreline theme is "Love Came Down". We're going to look at how, when, and why love came down in the event we celebrate each December 25th. We'll also explore this theme in three consecutive blog posts. For more info, visit christmasatshoreline.com.
Christmas is an amazing time of year. Some would even suggest it is "Wonderful". It is a time of decorating, dressing up (in tacky sweaters, no less), eating, and celebrating. I think literally everyone I know has recently been to a work Christmas party! People are shopping, watching nostalgic movies, singing songs (that some can only endure once a year), and breaking out special glassware that rarely gets used. With all the festivities, we can overlook the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas is the arrival of God's expressed love demonstrated in His answer to our lawless and fallen condition: Jesus. The arrival of King Jesus as a child is more than a mere holiday "story" that fits the season like Elf or Scrooge. Jesus' arrival changes everything. How could God deal with our rebellion in any other way? Did He have to send His only Son to take away our sin? What alternatives might there be to deal with the problem of our sinful nature?
Let's start with the problem: God exists (not by any means is that is a problem, but track with me!). He is a holy, eternal, benevolent being. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving. There is no equal to God. He is not a great choice among many great choices, like one of the "31 flavors" at Baskin Robbins. He alone is wise and sovereign and good. And He has revealed Himself to man. He has spoken truth and His commands and rather than submit our lives to Him, we reject and oppose and doubt and question Him. We have gone "rogue" in every sense of the word. Because of our rebellion, the penalty is spiritual and eternal death and separation from God forever. That's definitely a problem.
Because of this, there are really only 3 solutions to our impossible circumstance. God can either shirk His goodness and decide to recreate a new universe, chalking this one up to a failed state. Except that He already knew we would sin, and foreknew that Jesus would be the slain lamb before the world was founded (1 Pet 1:20, Rev 13:8). And tossing us to the curb like last year's fruitcake wouldn't be the work of a loving God.
The second option would be to overlook or ignore our sin. Many people would suggest that is a quality of love: to overlook glaringly dark areas and accepting someone for who they "are". But because of God's holiness, He won't turn a blind eye to lawlessness. Plus, love and truth are always kinsmen. You can't truly love without truth, and you cannot live truly without love. If I stated I "love" my kids but turn a blind eye when they do self-destructive things like running into traffic, I am not truly loving them. God, in a sense, is "allergic" to unrighteousness. One who is unrighteous cannot dwell in His presence and live. Because God is holy and is love, this option is untenable.
What then shall God do? The only option is to pay for the sin by sending a man who is born under law, born from below (from woman) to pay the penalty, which is death. Yet that man cannot have a sin nature so He must also be born from above (from God). And this is what we see so beautifully demonstrated in the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus was born of Mary and of the Father; thus Jesus is qualified in His humanity to die, and yet He was also qualified in His deity to rise from the dead.
Christmas is the arrival of Jesus, but the implications are overwhelming. Christmas is God's love and care demonstrated for you and I. Christmas is the intersection of grace and our human need. Christmas is God's answer for our impossible sin problem with the unthinkable gift of His only begotten Son. Christmas is God becoming one of us, making His dwelling among His people. Jesus is Emmanuel--God with us. Nothing short of these truths will make the season bright. May we celebrate Jesus, the true reason for the season!
Join us at Shoreline Church on Saturday, December 24th at one of our two services: 4pm or 6pm (there will be candlelight at the 6pm). Bring the whole family to this exciting celebration of Jesus our King!