The story of Jesus’s birth is mostly a love story. It is easy to lose sight of this fact in the busyness of the month of December. Or worse, we know the story of Jesus’ birth and have become so comfortable with all its language that it becomes like a nursery rhyme to us. This perhaps is the biggest danger of the Christmas Story. When the radical love story of the Incarnation, God becoming man in Jesus Christ, comes to be a neutered down fable passed down through the generations with all the transforming power of the Grimm’s Fairy Tale “Old Mother Hubbard.” If we can repeat the facts of Jesus birth but fail to understand the magnitude of God’s great love for us, we are in danger of making Jesus’ birth into a nursery rhyme.
No, not today. Jesus’ birth is the most powerful and utterly incomprehensible story in the bible. God became man, put on flesh, and was born as Jesus Christ to a virgin and her fearful new groom in a cave outside of a small town in Israel. Wow. Matthew tells us that Jesus birth is the promise of Immanuel, GOD WITH US. Jesus became one of us to exhibit God’s character to the world. And for what? Because God loves us so much. Don’t miss this: the point of Jesus’ birth was to be GOD WITH US to show us His great love for us. God loves us. He really does.
In many ways, I’m in danger of making God’s love similar to the birth story of Jesus. I know all the facts but fail to recognize the true power of this love. In this way, I’m in danger of making God’s radical love for me another nursery rhyme, tucked politely into a book of other hard to believe stories in the bible. No not today. Today I stand on the knowledge that the God of the universe loves me for who I am. And this great love for me, as one of His people, is why Jesus came to earth. First John 3:1 tells me with confidence that God loved me so much he made me His child.
If you need to rediscover God’s love for you, pick up one of Brennan Manning‘s books. His book Ragamuffin Gospel is perhaps the best love story between God and humans I have ever read. This Christmas season I a reading Lion and Lamb by Manning and being overwhelmed with the reminder of God’s love. Manning writes, “The gospel of Jesus Christ is the love story of God with us. It begins with unconditional forgiveness: the sole condition of trusting faith. Christianity happens when men and women experience the unwavering trust and reckless confidence that come from knowing the God of Jesus.”
Too simple? Then reclaim the simple knowledge of God’s love for you today. It has nothing to do with you, you are a recipient of God’s free gift. Manning continues, “Unlike ourselves, the Father of Jesus loves men and women, not for what He finds in them, but for lies within Himself. It is not because men and women are good that He loves them, nor only good men and women that He loves….He initiates love. He is love without motive.” So during this Christmas season, this time of expectation as we wait for the birth of Jesus Christ, reclaim God’s love for you today. Everything hinges on this free gift.