Believe it or not, there are individuals that struggle at this time of the year. Christmas for them is not a time of joy and happiness. Instead, it is a reminder of the struggle in their lives, the pain of a broken relationship or even a reminder of a lost loved one. Our pain can often drown out the love, God’s love for you, demonstrated in Christmas.
I believe the greatest need in each of our lives is to be loved. We often act out this need in our interactions with others. Think about it. Anger, pouting, temper tantrums, envy, jealousy and even bitterness are the products of unmet expectations. Now, we could discuss whether our response is appropriate, which it is not as a follower of Jesus, but they all respect our desire to be loved.
The Christmas season fills our lives with many good activities. The Christmas cookies and sweets, Christmas parties, and family get togethers, the giving and sharing of gifts are some of the wonderful events that fill our holiday schedule. Yet, it is easy to miss the deeper significance of this time of the year, it is a reminder of God’s love for you. There is much truth in the saying, “We often sacrifice what is best on the altar of what is good.” I have noticed in my life that is not bad things that keep me from what is best, but those good things. The busyness of Christmas often robs me of being blessed by the true meaning behind our annual celebration.
This week in our “All I Want for Christmas” sermon series we spent our time in Isaiah 52:12-53:12 we gained a glimpse of God’s love for us in the message titled, “All I Want is to be Loved!” God’s love for you is revealed in these words, dating about 700 years prior to Jesus birth, that remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice. We are reminded that the perfect Son of Man would be crushed because of our sin. We are reminded that Jesus’ death was strategic. God the son would suffer in our place. The passage reminds us also of the rejection that Jesus faced. We have a tendency to think that Jesus lived a fairy tale existence on earth. We are reminded that He was rejected by those He came to help; they saw nothing special in Him. This rejection would culminate in his torture and death on a Roman Cross. But, it all served a purpose! A purpose celebrated each year at Christmas. Yes the climax of Jesus’ early life was the cross, but it all began with His birth. God became a man so that those that would follow Him could be set free. His life was not some unfortunate misunderstanding, it was all part of God’s plan. A plan that was carried out exactly as God had scripted it to demonstrate His love for you and me.
The challenge, for those of us following Jesus, is two-fold. First, we need to stop and embrace the blessing and privilege of knowing Christ. Let us be the first to keep the focus on the deeper meaning of our holiday celebrations in our own lives. God loves us. Second, we should be a channel that carries God’s love to those around us by being like Jesus in our words and actions. The hurting people all round need to experience God’s love for them through us. Christmas really is one of the most wonderful times of the year!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson