(Post by: Scott Hobbs)
I have a favorite Christmas book, A Bethlehem Christmas, by Chuck Swindoll, that always gets pulled out after Thanksgiving. Like everything else in my life, I usually have to go looking for it. It’s kind of small; I call it my little blue Christmas book. So usually on the last Sunday of November I’m hollering, “Honey. Have you seen my little blue Christmas book?” because I’m really in a panic when I can’t find it. It’s definitely my go-to for getting prepared for Jesus coming.
Swindoll takes some liberty in getting us into the minds of Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, and the angel Gabriel. He shares the events of Christmas in the first person, or as though we were hearing directly from each of these people; from their perspective. So he’s writing with his perception of what they might have been thinking.
My favorite chapter is that of Gabriel’s perspective. I want to discuss a little bit of that with y’all tonight. In one particular section, after God has explained all the wondrous details of His long-developed plan to save humanity, Gabriel is just sitting back in complete amazement of the price and sacrifice that is required to save us all from our sin.
He says: “At this I wept. The immense love of God was more than I could fathom. The selfless grace of God was beyond my comprehension. And for what? Creatures who neither desired Him nor sought Him, who not only failed to believe but who refused to believe. This will always remain a mystery to me” (Swindoll, p. 171).
Wow!! That section just hits me like a ton of bricks. Every time I read it, I just feel like I need to stop right there and hit my knees. I hear the forerunner, John the Baptist, preaching directly at me: “REPENT! REPENT! REPENT!”
I know what you’re thinking; but Scott that doesn’t apply to me. Gabriel was referring to the Jews who rejected Jesus as Messiah. They are the ones who don’t get this Christmas thing, don’t desire or seek Him, refused to believe.
Oh, but who was the first that faltered and didn’t believe this plan. A priest maybe? Zechariah; called upright in the sight of God. Gabriel had seen his doubt firsthand upon his announcement of the forerunner John the Baptist.
The question is, how different are we than the folks Gabriel was describing from those early days? What is Gabriel saying about our level of belief today? Do you think he would be looking down at us and saying, “Now this generation of the Church really gets it. Man, look how they are living.”
I think not, and I am preaching as much to myself as to you here. How many times do I miss it in my daily walk? Why can’t I seem to stay focused on what Jesus wants in my life and not on my own selfish ambitions? Where were my priorities today? Was He really first in all that I was doing? Did I take time for the people God put in front of me, or did I just pass right on by trying to get all my stuff done?
Now, I know this is none of y’all. Especially this last week as we prepare for Christmas on Saturday. There’s no way any of y’all are putting the last-minute gifts ahead of Jesus as you take the closest parking spot to the store. I’m sure you’re not sitting around with your family discussing how much you dislike a couple of those folks coming to one of your gatherings; rather than trying to think about them like Jesus does. Probably none of you have decided all the other “stuff” is more important that doing your Advent study, taking time to watch an old spiritual Christmas movie you’ve seen 50 times with your family, or reading the Christmas story out of Luke to your family.
Here’s the thing. Let’s not get to December 26th and once again, like so many years before, say to ourselves, “I’ll do better next year. I won’t leave Jesus out of Christmas like I’ve done so many times before. I really will seek Him, desire Him, and believe.”
God put this perfect plan together for our salvation. Christmas is all about that. Let’s not live our lives for us. Look different. We must live for Him.
Keep Christmas, Jesus, in your heart all the days of the year. I don’t want Gabriel to look down at my life and think, “Really? God did all this for him and all humanity. And for what?”
O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM
Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.