Dec 7, 2009

When Christmas Calls

On that first "silent night" so long ago, two worlds gently touched. The unseen spiritual world bumped ever so tenderly against the one in which we live.  And, God reached out and laid a gift at our feet.

The gift was a Child. And the Child had great purpose attached to His life. And He fulfilled that purpose with perfect devotion. I wonder, could we, one more time, consider the beauty of that gift that was a Child...

Sometimes when we gaze upon the beauty, and innocence, and wonder of the Christ Child we simply see Him as that precious Babe of promise. Nothing wrong with that, obviously. But, it deepens our appreciation for the worth of the promise that lives in Him when we consider the vast depth of His condescension.

Just think about it. Jesus came to this world from an existence in which He was absolutely limitless. For example, time could impose no limit on him. A thousand years was as one day, and a day, as a thousand years. 

He existed before time; and He shall remain after it. He existed in eternity yesterday as tomorrow. To Him both were, and are, but the present, so that He would once say, "Before Abraham was, I am." Humanity has always been absolutely restricted to a life lived only in the present. But before this Baby came to our world, He never knew such menial restrictions.

Nor could limitations of space be imposed upon Him as the pre-incarnate God. He was everywhere in all places at once. He existed in all existence. Not in the pantheistic sense, but in the sense of His omniscience and power. He was everywhere in all of the universe, and yet, was distinct from it as its Creator. This Child, before he was a child, was in the universe while at the same time encompassing it. He filled all space and occupied none.

Before this Baby became a baby and put on a covering of human flesh, He knew no obstacles and no restraints to His will. Whatever He determined, he could effortlessly do. He was God Almighty.

Because that was true, His existence was without pain or injury. He was entirely immersed in the joy of absolute freedom. And, He lived an existence of unmingled goodness. 

He knew nothing of the anguish, or fear, or weakness. He knew nothing of tears born out of sorrow. He knew nothing of hunger or thirst. Before He became the Child of Christmas, He knew only the creative joy of unlimited power.

But, when the Father's redemptive call came, all of that changed. In order to become the Savior of the world, He had to lay down his Godly privilege and become, in every way, like us. And so, He did. 

He veiled Himself in the flesh of a little child and entered the world of his cherished creature to bring a message of love, forgiveness, and newness. In what was essentially only a moment of time, Jesus stepped from a throne of unlimited power to a lowly manger in order to reconcile two worlds.  And from that first moment of His humiliating birth, this once unlimited God began to experience the pain of all things human.

How unfamiliar and difficult that first breath of air must have been to a God who only a moment before had no need of air. But that was surely nothing compared to what was coming.

He who had, only yesterday, spanned the universe without effort or loss of time, now would spend years just to traverse the lengths of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea. He who created our sun, and a trillion more like it, and who flung them all into the Heavens with but a word, must now endure its disabling heat and feel the sweat born of laboring under it. 

Moreover, He must, every day, inhale the dust of the world that He created. He must endure the pain that He created the world without. He must taste the anguish of heart that He never intended humanity to know.

This Baby, who only a moment ago had governed the universe according to His graceful whim, must now taste the deep bitterness of disappointment and frustration and failure. And, though He had walked with the perfect Adam, He must presently experience the wounds that His now depraved creature would inflict upon Him.

This Baby, who, as God, knew no needs of any kind, must now know the throes of hunger, feel the need for sleep, and experience the weakness of exhaustion. And, this One who had cast an angry and defiant Satan from Heaven, must now, face his demonic treachery and wrath in the disabling limitations of His humanity. 

And finally, how horrible it must have been for the very Essence of Life to lie down in the dark void of death.  And, how hard pressed must His courageous have been to do so in response to the needs of the very ones who killed Him.

So obviously, it is one thing to simply gaze upon the beauty of this precious child, this Christmas Gift from God.  But, it is quite another to appreciate the depth of His condescension. 

Christmas is romanticized in many ways from jingling bells to roasting chestnuts, to white landscapes. But, here is the true romance of it all. It is the romance of a reconciliation - a true and very personal reconnection to our benevolent Creator.

The sad truth is that our world is full of people who are yet estranged from God's love and daily companionship. But, the joy is this.  Each Christmas calls us back.  This Child of the manger, through the nobility of His sacrifice, speaks to us in deep and primitive rhythms of the promise of forgiveness and the opportunity to start again.

It is true that many choose resist the call of God's love. Perhaps they diffuse it away through preoccupation or "busy-ness."    Or, perhaps they allow the treachery of those other voices in their head to undermine the value of a truly redemptive encounter with God.

Nevertheless, He continues to calls. Every Christmas the Baby calls to us again. He calls to us from His innocence. He calls to us from His harmlessness. And this God - turned Child - calls to us from the pure beauty of what He has done and who He is. 

Always, He calls in the soft and lovely under tones of divine whispers:  "Be reconciled to Me.  Take my hand, and walk with Me; and, I will give you newness."

It is true, of course. We can resist this amazing invitation to experience God's life transforming friendship. But, the bigger question is this.  "Why would we?"  Rather, why would we not choose to completely give ourselves to the One who has so completely given Himself to us?  

May this be the Christmas that the call of God's love in Christ Jesus becomes completely irresistible to your heart.  May this be the Christmas that you fully embrace His values and His direction for your life.  In that moment, the true purpose of Christmas will be fulfilled.  And, the true promise of Christmas will come to life for you.