by Rayola Kelley
It is hard to believe that Christmas is upon us. It seems like yesterday I wrote an article for Christmas 2001. One wonders what to say about this holiday that will do it justice without repeating what has already been thoroughly discussed. Do you talk about the conflict surrounding the spiritual implications of Christmas as to whether it is pagan or godly? Do you elaborate about Christ’s miraculous conception—that He was born of a virgin? Do you point out how God stepped on the scene in a miraculous way to intervene on behalf of mankind? Do you write about the baby in the manger and what it signifies for you and me?
Jesus was born within the filth and dirt of a manger, but this manger points to an even greater birth—Jesus being born within the spirit of man. The manger is symbolic of man’s filth and depravity, but people experience a new birth when they come to Jesus seeking forgiveness for sins and salvation. This new birth means that Jesus is coming into the midst of a person’s depravity and cleansing, healing, restoring, and making him or her whole.
Although Jesus’ first advent is of the utmost importance, His death, burial and resurrection speak of man’s real hope. Jesus came so He could die. He died so man could have life. He ascended to heaven where He reigns and is waiting for His Second Advent. Instead of coming as a humble servant and sacrifice as He did the first time, He will come as the victorious King for His bride.
As I ponder Christmas, I realize that those who made it possible reveal a disposition that gives Christmas another type of perspective. This disposition will help to keep the real meaning of Christmas in perspective in spite of all the debates and materialism. Therefore, it would be wise for believers to consider it.
The first ingredient to this disposition is humility. Mary, the mother of Jesus, had this virtue. Like the manger, she was an unlikely candidate to become a vessel for God. Like Bethlehem, she held no merit. Yet, God chose her because she was humble before Him (Luke 2:42-55).
Humility is the opposite of pride. It gives way to that which is greater. It walks in confidence in the things that it knows are true. It recognizes its discrepancies as it exalts God in His holiness as man’s only hope.
The second person we must consider is Joseph, Mary’s husband. Joseph had doubts about the miraculous conception, but he was a man of integrity who was willing to show wisdom and discretion, instead of anger and vengeance. When the angel revealed the truth to him, he pushed past his doubts and became submissive to God’s plan (Matthew 1:18-25).
Submission is the second ingredient in the disposition of Christmas. Godly submission is a product of integrity. It will always come into line with what is right, regardless of personal feelings and doubts. It is obedient in response, and in Joseph’s case, could be entrusted with overseeing and protecting the Son of God.
The next ingredient of the disposition of Christmas is purity. The baby, Jesus, is the sinless Son of God. His nature as God Incarnate and His position as a baby point to this quality. His example shows believers that purity requires regression in attitude before they can embrace the reality of the Christian life. For instance, Jesus gave up the heavenly realm, took on the position of a servant, and was fashioned in the form of a man. As man, He allowed Himself to become a baby in a manger.
Jesus’ example reveals the extent of this regression, while in Matthew 18:3, He makes it clear: “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Emphasis added.) Man’s intellectual prowess, his self-sufficiency and his independence must give way to total dependency on God, to be made pure in heart. This purity means that the person will approach the heavenly Father with a child-like attitude. This disposition will display both a reliance and receptivity towards the love, authority and commitment of the Father.
Many Christians have a hard time being receptive towards the things of God. The Apostle Paul makes reference to this in Romans 8:15: “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba Father.”
Being a child in disposition implies the individual has curiosity to explore, simplicity to be excited, the innocence to experience awe, and the ability to see God. Jesus confirmed this when He stated: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:9).
The final example is the shepherds. These men were considered the lower class of society. Yet, Jesus came to be the Shepherd of men’s souls. The Apostle Paul put the position of these shepherds in this perspective by declaring God has chosen: “base things of the world, and things which are despised” (1 Corinthians 1:28).
Although the shepherds seemed insignificant to much of society, they represented the people who are most likely to respond to Jesus Christ. God exalted them as the angels proclaimed the birth of the Messiah to them. These insignificant men decided to respond and traveled to Bethlehem to see Jesus. Their response when they encountered the Christ child is the next ingredient in the disposition of Christmas. They were excited about what they witnessed and told others.
The shepherds became the first evangelists to bring glad tidings about Jesus to the lost world. They show us that encountering the Messiah is a point of celebration that should bring awe, excitement and a response. Their actions should serve as a reminder to each Christian of their commission to preach the Gospel. It matters little as to the status of the individual. If a Christian truly loves Jesus, there is no way that he or she can be restrained from sharing the excitement of His reality with others.
Isaiah 52:7 says: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation: that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” Christmas is a unique time to share the Gospel with the attitude of awe of a child of God, in submission to the heart of God, and with humility as a servant of God.
I fear today that some of the Church have lost sight of their commission to share the good news with others. I pray God revives this vision so the whole Church will be compelled by the love of God to see lost souls saved, while displaying the attitude of a servant and child of God. I believe that there is no better time for this type of revival to occur than during Christmas time when we look back to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. But, we must not stop at Bethlehem in our worship or commission. We need to continue to follow Him to the cross of Calvary, from the grave to the right hand of the Father. If we follow Him in this manner, our love, life and declaration will expand the rest of our lives.
This year, celebrate Christmas in the right attitude and make yourself available to share the gift of Christ with those who cross your bow. If you keep this perspective, you will be assured of upholding the core of it in spirit and truth and of having a Merry Christmas.