Over the past several years, I have gained a deeper appreciation of Christmas. It wasn't until I was introduced to the love of Jesus and was confronted with my sinful heart that I was able to grasp the significance of Jesus' birth.
One of my friends from my Keene days had a little sister who was very ill back in the fall semester of 01. She knew Jesus well, and a couple of months before she passed away she was willing to introduce me to Him. She (and her mom & sisters) shared His love and His mercy and His wisdom and His grace with me. It left me speechless. I was agnostic at the time; a liberally minded young woman who wanted nothing to do with the rampant hypocrisy of the church or the elitism of the evangelical crowd. The judgments I held toward Jesus' followers blinded me from getting to know Jesus. Her gentle introduction completely ruined the foundation of my life - because what I had been building my life on (success. popularity. power. good grades.) was sinking sand.
I mulled her words over for the next couple of months and was willing to accept that God existed and that Jesus had indeed come to earth to die a death for sin. But my sin? Really? I hadn't really done anything terribly wrong. I had hurt people; I told some lies; I had a manipulative streak. But so did other people. I didn't feel like I was any worse off than anyone I knew, and I certainly knew I was better than lots of other people. It took months for me to understand that the cost for any sin is spiritual death, and that each person who has ever walked the face of the planet (except Jesus) was a sinner, worthy of eternal death. Once I accepted that, and acknowledged how unworthy I was of God's love, I was able to then rejoice in the grace He extended by sending His Son, Jesus, to die in my place at Calvary.
My life has been turned upside down. All those things that I thought were so very important - having everyone like me, making everyone proud of me, following all the rules, having a great money-making career and an awesome house - that stuff is temporary. Jesus has given me the assurance that there is a better home that awaits me if I am willing to count the temporary stuff as just that and focus my energy on God and His eternal love for me and for everyone around me.
I hope you're able to better appreciate and understand why it is that Jesus' birth was so necessary and why it was such an occasion for praise and joy. Without His birth, His death could not have happened, and it is His death and resurrection that can give you the hope of eternal and abundant life. If you don't know Jesus well (and even if you do!), pick up a Bible and read it. Start with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, but don't stop there. The Bible says that Jesus is the Word of God - you'll find His life and His love throughout each book and chapter. Get to know Him; He's a friend that will change your life forever.
[Sarah passed away a week before Christmas, 2001, a few months before her ninth birthday...I am grateful that she was willing to reach out and give hope to me, even though she had never met me before and didn't see me again before the Lord called her home. I am looking so forward to seeing her in heaven and getting to sit at the feet of Jesus with her!]
Introducing others to Jesus,
for His glory!