Christmas & The Gospel

Christmas & The Gospel
Carol Hensel & Caroleah Johnson

What captivates us most during the Christmas season? The beautiful decorations and light displays? Gifts? Shopping? Baking? Visits from friends and family? The general sense of peace and goodwill toward all mankind? These are all a wonderful part of the season, and the mention of them often stirs fond memories and joyful expectations. Yet, for Christians, being ‘Christmas people’ is so much more; it is so much broader; it encompasses all of life and isn’t just reserved for one month in the year. When we, as believers, fully grasp the implications of what we celebrate – the unfolding of God’s great plan of redemption - we truly become ‘Christmas people’, captivated by the Gospel, 365 days of the year.  

This year, the focus of Women’s Ministry has been the Gospel - what it is, how it should affect each one of us, and how to share this most wonderful news. It is indeed the good news of God taking on human form by coming to earth as a baby in order to meet our deepest need, to reconcile us to Him, and to give us a hope and a future. And now, during the Christmas season, the coming of the Savior is on display more than ever.

What do others see when they look at us? Are we just like everyone else, scurrying around frantically in the chaos of the season, trying to take part in all the special festivities, wearing stress and busyness almost as a badge of honor? Or do they see us unruffled and calm, knowing that the true meaning of Christmas isn’t something that has to be crammed into a few short calendar days one time a year? Do they see the love we have for each other, for our neighbors, for those who we may not agree with culturally or politically? Do they see us valuing our families more than a career opportunity? Do they notice our hope in turbulent times? Are they struck by our fearless resolve when facing trials? Our unexplainable joy from day to day? Our loving embrace of ‘others’? Our generosity to the less fortunate? In other words, do they see us as different (in a good way) than those who have not personally grasped the Gospel?

Personally. Grasped. The Gospel. Have we? Have I? 

More than good advice on how to live an upright life, it is the amazing news that we can be reconciled to God, forgiven, redeemed, transformed, adopted. It starts with the realization of how sinful we each are - how rebellious I am -, how we have rejected God and are unable to save ourselves. We desperately need a Savior. Then, truly aware of our condition, the news that the baby Jesus born in Bethlehem didn’t remain a baby, but that He grew up and lived a perfect life, pleasing to God in every way, and that he gave his life as a sacrifice to pay for our sins, take our curse, this truth transforms us. This gift of salvation, of an entirely new and everlasting life leads us to place our trust in him. By faith we cry out for mercy and plead for forgiveness. In gratitude, we embrace the Savior and treasure this undeserved gift.

How then do we live Christmas all year long? We join in with this dear saint from our church who blurted out: “The Gospel is my life. Without it, I would be in the pit.” That cry will have us clinging to Christ, longing for His Word, faithfully mining it for truth, for hope. It will cause us to lay our burdens at His feet, seek His wisdom, and humble ourselves. It will lead us to worship Him, delight in Him, praise His goodness, both privately and with our family of redeemed sinners. Our schedules and bank statements will reveal the transforming work of God and the impact of the Gospel on our passions and desires.
This impact will overflow to others. Struck by the magnitude of God’s love for us, clearly manifested at Christmas, we will seek to display love to others in tangible ways. We look to invest in the lives of friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, believers and especially those who are not believers. Who can we invite to our house for coffee and conversation? Who can we take a meal to for no special reason? Who can we run errands for? Who can we help with raking leaves or other yard work?  The opportunities are endless.

Most importantly though, we cannot forget that the greatest gift is Christ Himself and sharing Him is the greatest way to express love. Fully grasping the Gospel will lead us to proclaim it. With love and clarity, passion and resolve, compassion and boldness, our goal will be to do so all throughout the year, for the pleasure and glory of God. The greatest gift one can ever receive is far too valuable not to share. Who are we sharing it with?

Living as true Christmas people, 365 days of the year – our goal.
Celebrating Christ’s birth at Christmas, year after year – our joy.
Longing for Christ’s return, not in weakness as a baby, but in power and glory as the reigning King – our hope.

Joni Erickson Tada says, “Every Christmas is still a ’turning of the page’ until Jesus returns. Every December 25 marks another year that draws us closer to the fulfillment of the ages, that draws us closer to him.”

Until then, may the Gospel captivate us above all else.

And let us take that indescribably great gift of salvation and make it the gift that keeps on giving, day after day, year after year.
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1 Comment

Eileen L - December 2nd, 2022 at 8:40pm

Amen and Amen 365!