God with us
I just love the quote above, if you would like to read it in its context, the entire book is available here. I wrote a post entitled Jesus. All. that provides worthwhile context for pondering some of the truths we will be exploring on this post.
More and more often I hear people say that all religions are essentially the same, they all have a similar message, be nice, be kind, be honest, etc. Personally, I feel like for someone to make this statement she must not know much about any specific religion. I do not feel like I am in a position to answer questions about many world religions but I do believe that what is traditionally celebrated during Christmas, the birth of Jesus, and more importantly the reason for the birth is unique to Christianity. While so many around the world seek the gods, we worship a God who seeks us.
I love how the chorus of the song “How Many Kings” by Downhere, puts it.
Cause how many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
We worship the God who created us.
The Bible begins with the account of creation. (I have a whole post dedicate to this entitle In The Beginning.) God creates us intentionally, lovingly. Everything God makes is good, His creation is perfect. Long before Jesus was born as a baby, He was involved in creating us in His image and placing us in a perfect world. I find it fascinating how God reveals His desire for a relationship early on, it is how He chose to culminate the week of creation.
And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
- Genesis 2:2-3 NKJV
I am going to spend some time exploring the implications of the seventh day of creation.
God created humans on the sixth day of creation (Genesis 1:24-31), therefore Adam and Eve must not be tired. God never tires (Isaiah 40:28), so He does not need to rest. Why then would God create a day of rest? Why is the first full day Adam and Eve have on earth a day of rest? What does this say about God?
What the seventh day of creation says about God.
God is interested in relationships. God did not create us to just work, though it is understood that we are not meant to be idle either since a life of idleness would not require a day of rest. Though work is to be a part of life it is not the goal. God wants to spend time together, God wants to invest in a relationship and He made sure we would have time for it by setting a special day aside. God cares about us, and even before there was sin, there was a special day set aside to be spent resting with God.
What the seventh day of creation says about us.
Our identity is not based on what we do, but rather on who we are. We are loved and valued because we were created by God in His image, long before we ever did anything to try to deserve His love and affection. God already loved us and set a whole day aside to spend with us before humans had ever worked a single day. God loves you for who you are. Whether you feel like a failure has no impact on how much God loves you or how valuable you are to Him.
Long before the birth of Jesus, even before the fall, God already demonstrated great interest in our lives.
When I read the Bible I am confronted with the reality of a God in search of mankind.
Genesis 1-2 - God creates man and woman in his image and places them in a perfect world He created.
Genesis 3 - Adam and Eve disobey God and deserve to die, but God speaks to them and gives them hope (Genesis 3:15) and clothes them in tunics of skin. (More on this on my post someOne is coming.)
Genesis 6 - God sees how wicked humans have become but Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (More on my post Judgment and Grace)
Genesis 12 - God calls Abram/Abraham. (more on my post Called by God)
I think you get the idea. God is personally involved with life here on earth. God is the One who initiates the relationships. God reaches out to us first.
Here is a quote from the Desire of Ages, page 23 that captures this well.
God commanded Moses for Israel, “Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8), and He abode in the sanctuary, in the midst of His people. Through all their weary wandering in the desert, the symbol of His presence was with them. So Christ set up His tabernacle in the midst of our human encampment. He pitched His tent by the side of the tents of men, that He might dwell among us, and make us familiar with His divine character and life. “The Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as of the Only Begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth.” John 1:14, R. V., margin.
The birth of Jesus is the clearest demonstration of who God is, but it makes perfect sense in the context of the Old Testament. God is continually and relentlessly pursuing us. God sends prophets and signs and visions, always calling us to Him. God instructs, guides, warns, and provides for us continually, until ultimately He sends us His only Son. Jesus comes and becomes one of us in order to save us.
The manger scene, the birth of the baby Jesus, regardless of the date when it took place (very likely not December 25), is an event that ought to blow our minds. Even before Jesus ever died on the cross, just the thought that God would be willing to be born as a human is almost unimaginable.
The idea of Jesus being born in the wealthiest and most opulent palace on earth with the very best this sinful world has to offer, with all of humanity humbly willing to obey His every command would already require infinite humility. But He was willing to be born under circumstances that even we, fallen humans, would do everything to avoid.
God has done everything to save you. But God will not force His salvation on you. He respects your freedom to choose. So what will your response be?
It is clear beyond a shadow of doubt that God wants a relationship with you. Will you invite Him into your heart?
There is a message found in the book of Revelation, in the third chapter, written for the church of Laodicea, which many believe corresponds to our time in history. So you could say Jesus is saying this to us today
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
- Jesus (Revelation 3:20 NKJV)
How will you respond?