urprise!It’s Christmas morning and here we are in Romans 8, the most surprising of all places.Advent has focused my thoughts on the birth of a Holy Baby, Jesus, the Son of God so it was a surprise to read these familiar words in a whole new way because of what “God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh” —?? Sinful flesh…us??It took a beat for my heart to realize this IS just how far God went “so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us.” In order to do that, God filled that Advent cradle with Himself “in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin” with the power to buy back our likeness to sin so we might “not walk according to the flesh.”There’s an old story of a European ruler who would sneak away and walk among his people incognito. It drove his security people nuts but his response was “I cannot rule my people unless I know how they live.”
God chose to begin His walk among us on that first Christmas morning disguised as an ordinary baby, living and growing up in ordinary ways…walking among us incognito…until in His perfect timing He could reveal the surprise likeness of God “in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
God is still offering this world His annual reminder to celebrate Christ’s birth, even disguised by what we call the chaos of Christmas. This year in the midst of my very different kind of personal chaos I have been reminded that first Christmas was disguised by chaos too! People lived in a world where harsh circumstances became the evidence they mistakenly used to form their judgments about God and each other. They lived as separate pieces of chaos with no connection to one another. Sound familiar? But…then The Gift of Connection happened.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
Jesus is The Gift of Connection! He is the real Gift sent to us with God’s divine expectations…hoping we would recognize…and receive…the one Gift that could reclaim chaos. The Gift that could connect old Words and Light to overcome darkness. The Gift that would find, and custom-fit, the unrelated shapes, mismatched patterns and varied colors of chaos together to become a perfectly designed whole cloth; every piece connected in just the right spot, at just the right time to become part of something eye catching and unique.
This Christmas, 2021, God still persists in reminding the world he chooses to make whole cloth from pieces of chaos so the world might see how the many parts of His Body and His church can fit together to become proof that His character and promises are made visible by The Gift of Connection and His perfection. Amen!
“All the persons of faith I know are sinners, doubters, uneven performers. We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us.” ― Eugene Peterson
II Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings.14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:11
Romans 8: 1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
My whole theme for this year’s Big Event has been Blessing. I have practiced what I preached about trying to use my voice to bless others as I went about my Christmas preparation. It’s been a revelation to me that if your mindset is to do that, opportunities just seem to pop up where saying “God bless you”…for whatever…seems natural and right. It bears repeating all year long..
Your Savior has been born! Remembering the Big Event has come to an end. Now I’d like to introduce you to the grown-up Jesus of Romans 8. This is the Savior with treasured gifts for you this Christmas morning; forgiveness, freedom and fulfillment. I know this Jesus well.
I had a very special dream as a relatively new believer more than half a lifetime ago. Jesus had come to take me to see something with him. He held my hand as we looked at a grotesque museum style head-and-shoulders statue sitting alone on a pedestal in the room. It wasn’t until we were leaving and I turned to take one last look at that ugly thing that I saw it was me. That was “my” dream but It has a reality that’s become my blessing for you this Christmas Day.
You have a grown-up Savior who loves you enough to hold your hand while you take one last look at who you “were.” It’s time to open those gifts of forgiveness, freedom and fulfillment. That is no longer who you “are.” Your Savior has been “born again” into your heart’s memory this December. Merry Christmas and God Bless One Last Look.