When was the last time you really thought about why you celebrate Christmas? Oh, we celebrate… buy why do we? In this season where it seems the whole world jumps on board to decorate and sing songs of cheer and give gifts, doesn’t it seem a bit odd that though many can mouth the words, “to celebrate the birth of Christ”, they have no idea what they are really saying?
When was the last time you slowed down to really reflect on the why of Christmas?
There is a one verse in scripture that puts it rather succinctly: For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
There it is. Wrapped up in a single line. For God so loved the world that He gave….
Ponder that. God loved…He gave… Not just a little love… He so loved… One version says: God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son.
That’s good news in itself. God loved us enough to send the very best. Himself. That would be enough to celebrate right there. God comes to town!
Just His coming would be reason enough to celebrate! But that’s not the end of the verse. God had a purpose in coming. He was on a mission. He loved…and that prompted action. He saw His newest planet go awry. He watched as His youngest creation walked away from Him, following another of His wayward children into outright rebellion.
He cried as he heard the words, “We heard your voice and we were afraid…”
He knew, as every parent of a defiant teen knows, that unless drastic action was taken, this young world would be forever lost. And so He came… why?
…that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Ponder that. I know you’ve heard the words a million times, but slow down a minute and reflect on what that means. Stop your conversation with your neighbor. Stop trying to impress her. Stop worrying about lunch. Stop your racing mind. Just stop. // And ponder the words that are as familiar as Christmas commercialism.
…that whoever believes in Him, should not perish… What? Perish from what? What do you mean perish? That’s such an ugly word…perish. According to the dictionary it means to die, for example, because of harsh conditions or accident. To come to an end or cease to exist. Perish.
It is both of these definitions that John was trying to encapsulate with that one word. Without help, you and I will die because of harsh conditions. Sin created such harsh conditions, that you and I cannot endure it. We will perish. Which means that we will come to an end and cease to exist. Bottom line…there was no hope of getting out alive.
But God wanted us to live. In the middle of that cold hard reality, stop. Stop and listen to what God says.
God is saying—I LOVE YOU!!! Ponder that. I LOVE you. I love YOU!
Let’s look at that whole verse: For God (the greatest good) so loved (the greatest action) the world (the greatest need) that He gave (the greatest example) His only Son (the greatest sacrifice) that whoever (the greatest invitation) believes in Him (the greatest response) should not perish (the greatest fate) but have everlasting life (the greatest gift).
That’s the reality of the Christmas season. To find the Christmas you’ve always longed for, you have to slow down for reflection. Stop in the middle of the madness and reflect. Ponder the love behind the greatest gift. Think about the meaning of God coming down to this little speck in the universe. Reflect on His invitation to you. Step out of the rush and do some unhurried contemplation. Reread the story. Put yourself there. Look and see the baby. Smell the smells. Hear the sounds. Feel God’s love surround you. Slow down for reflection.
And celebrate. Celebrate the Christ in Christmas.
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