The Cruel Side of ChristmasJon Burgess
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8 NIV
Born to die. Not something you see very often on a Christmas card. Paul makes it clear that Jesus, who sees the beginning from the end, saw everything that was about to happen to him before He arrived on earth. He saw the whole timeline all the way through the worst cruelty a man could endure and yet He still came. Why? Because Jesus also saw us, each one of us, on the other side of the Cross and the Resurrection! The cruel side of Christmas is that He came to die so that we might live! Jesus wasn't coerced or forced or tricked in to coming to earth to take on our sin, our skin, or our shame. He emptied Himself of His rightful and just position in Heaven so we could know the fullness of Christ here on earth! He was born to die so that we who were born into sin could know eternal life through Him! Now that's the true gift of Christmas!
I love this time of year! I love the cute and coziness of it all! From Charlie Browns sad little Christmas tree, to the cute ornaments on my tree from years gone by, to the cute smiles on the faces of children basking in the Christmas lights. I love it! But, if I'm not careful, I'll miss the fullness of the Christmas message because I focus on the cuteness and ignore the cruelty. If it's all about sentimentality and Santa and not the conquering of sin then I will have missed the point of Christmas entirely. I was in tears last night as I talked through this reality with Cyndi. It hit me hard as I put myself in the place of Jesus before He came to earth. If I saw the timeline of my future in its entirety the way Jesus did, with all the pain that awaited, I wouldn't leave the house let alone the country, let alone the world. There's nothing cute or cuddly about leaving the comforts and rights of a Kingship and Kingdom to die for those who will for the most part hate you, misunderstand you or completely miss that you came at all. That's just a cruel choice. And yet, Jesus chose this, on purpose, if for even just one person to be united with God for eternity. Sin is cruel and the penalty of sin is death and there's no escaping that Christ was the only One who could conquer this reality on our behalf! Here's the kicker: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus". We don't just celebrate and sing about this love at Christmas, we show it! We don't head into this season for what we can receive, but for what we can give! We must be as purposeful and intentional as Christ in how we are using our time. We cannot let the cruelty of the cross get buried in the glitter of Christmas packaging. I often find myself getting so wrapped up in what I want out of Christmas that I stop serving others and start serving self. The true celebration of Christmas isn't about avoiding the cruel, hard and painful, but is about loving others who face these very realtiies in the world around us.
You came to make us clean through the worst possible means. Jesus, I love you and am in awe at how much You love me, at all that You would endure just so that I could know you. I am so thankful for this fresh, painfully beautiful revelation of Your love for me and all mankind. The best possible way to celebrate Christmas it not to be full of myself but to empty myself out for those around me!