Christmas is about God’s story. His story did not begin with the birth of Jesus but goes all the way back in eternity past through to the creation of humankind in Genesis 1. Adam and Eve found themselves in the idyllic context of the Garden and ended up being deceived into thinking that they could eat what God had forbidden and somehow get away with it (sounds like the front page of the newspaper). Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil changed life forever for them ….. and for us.
Imagine trying to sew fig leaves together to cover up one’s nakedness and also hiding among the trees to escape God’s purview (as if God could not see them!). There were afraid and experienced shame ~ universal human emotions. God cursed the crafty serpent by announcing, “He will crush your head and you will strike his heel” (Gen 3:15b). This would be fulfilled in Christ’s victory over death, hell, and the grave, clearly finalized in His resurrection from the dead (Ro 6:20).
What grips me about God’s meta-story is that our stories derive from His. I am part of God’s story, and so are you. God sent His Son into the world to provide the ultimate sacrifice for our sin. The sacrifice of lambs, goats, and bulls vividly described in the Hebrew Bible could not ultimately atone for sin. God sent the perfect sacrificial lamb, His only Son, to atone for the sins of all humanity ~ born in a lowly manger. In humility, we need to acknowledge that we are sinners in need of a Savior, cannot save ourselves, and then place our faith in Jesus Christ, as the Messiah of the world.
I remember so clearly when I received Christ as my Savior. Quite unexpectedly during my senior year of undergrad, I realized that I had enough credits to graduate one semester early. This extra semester gave me the opportunity to travel around the U.S., visiting friends and relatives and looking for employment. I visited Miami, Houston, and Atlanta. God encountered me in each city through the relationships with those I was visiting.
While in Miami, I had stayed up all night with friends and caught the sunrise on Easter Sunday. Because of overuse of my contact lenses, the corneas of both eyes were almost completely damaged (not a good thing when you have no health insurance). Like Paul being blinded on the Damascus Road, I stayed in a completely dark room for three days, hoping that my vision would be restored. This is the first time I remember clearly calling on the name of the Lord for help. After my eyesight was restored, a friend gave me a parting gift of a Bible at my departure.
In Houston, my uncle’s friend, a godly Christian woman, took me under her wing for the two weeks I was there, included me in all she did and simply loved me. While in Houston, I sat upon my uncle’s sofa, while he was away on a 3-day business trip, and literally cried out to God to come into my life and guide me. At that moment, God’s grace filled my life and I realized that God was real, that Jesus was in fact the Savior of the world, and that we might have eternal life by inviting Him into our hearts.
The Savior of the world born as a baby! What events surrounded your receiving Jesus into your heart? What circumstances caused you to be aware of your need for God’s redemption? How did your life change?
To all of our Renewal Dynamics blog readers, may you have a blessed Christmas and New Year!