Candlelight, red poinsettias, and organ music playing familiar carols welcomed us into the Christmas Eve service. Miles from home I felt at home in this traditional church setting — until the minister spoke.
“Jesus came too soon,” he pronounced in somber tones. He listed all the reasons why we humans weren’t yet good enough for Jesus to come. He concluded as he’d begun. “Jesus came too soon. We weren’t ready for Him.”
I scanned the faces around me. Was anyone listening? The punch line never came. Didn’t these people know why Jesus came (Matthew 1:21)?
Did this minister think we could make ourselves good enough for Christ? Didn’t he know what the Scriptures say about the condition of the human heart apart from grace?
Humanistic Pride Versus Biblical Humility
The minister assessed humankind and saw how we fall short. But he missed the depth of human depravity when he thought we could reform ourselves.
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one” (Romans 3:10-12 NIV).
Humanism says if we dig deep enough we’ll find good. We just need to try harder. But the Bible calls our righteous deeds filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and says no one in a fallen state even cares about pleasing God, let alone can. Our only hope is to admit our need and humbly receive God’s mercy and forgiveness.
The pastor’s premise on God’s timing was also wrong.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8 NIV emphasis added).
We read of soldiers taking a bullet to save a fellow soldier. But I’ve never heard of one dying to save his enemy. Yet Jesus died for us while we were His enemies.
“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:10 NIV).
The marvel of Christmas isn’t that we weren’t good enough. The true miracle of Christmas is that God loved us while we were His enemies and sent Jesus to rescue us from the kingdom of darkness and bring us into the light.
- “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins” (Romans 3:22-24 NLT).
- “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV).
- “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT).
- “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true” (Ephesians 5:8-9 NLT).
We can’t make ourselves good enough for God. Anyway, who wants self-righteousness when they can have Christ-righteousness? If we have Jesus, we have His righteousness. Now that’s a true Christmas miracle!
Speaking of new beginnings…
A fellow author in one of my writers’ groups has a new book that sounds perfect for starting the new year.
We Were Reborn for This: the Jesus Model for Living Heaven on Earth.
“Reborn should be required reading for all Christians.”
Bill Myers, author of Rendezvous with God
In the face of tragedy and hate in the world, Christians have the answer.
What if we were born again for more? What if we were reborn to enter the brokenness of others with peace and hope?
Through inspirational stories, practical experience in the US and overseas, using the resurrection of Lazarus as a narrative framework, Britt Mooney explores why and how we can follow Jesus’ model for discipleship, entering the broken and desperate lives of others with scandalous compassion, supernatural power, and radical transformation.The true miracle of Christmas is that God loved us while we were His enemies and sent Jesus to rescue us from the kingdom of darkness and bring us into the light. #Christmas Click To Tweet
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