The Missing Message of Christmas

By Ricky Chelette, Executive Director

There’s no disputing the truth that the big news of Christmas is the coming of Jesus Christ, the son of God, the Messiah of promise and prophecy, who came to redeem the world.  We create statuaries, and we depict His birth in a million creative plays, dramas, and scripts.  It is the single most significant birth in human history.  His entrance into the world marks time itself.

However, there is another story often overlooked that runs concurrently with the birth narrative. It is the story of surrender at almost every level, which allowed the Big Story to unfold.

All the characters in the cosmic drama had to make a significant surrender of their own will, feelings, and perceptions to obey the revelation of God they received. Think about it:  Mary, a young girl with limited theological knowledge of God’s grand plan for redemption, had to believe angels for things which had never, EVER, happened before. Joseph, an often-overlooked character in the story but one of my favorites, had to fight the scourge of cultural rejection and opinion and take on a wife who was, by conventional wisdom, certainly not a virgin (though she was).  He had to trust a dream; a dream that said he would raise the Son of God.  It’s hard enough to raise a son under normal circumstances, but can you imagine the pressure to raise the Son of God? Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, believed the prophecies of old and sensed the Spirit’s moving that assured her that both her son given in old age would be the forerunner of the Messiah, but that indeed a Messiah was to be born to her cousin Mary.

We read the Christmas story as if it is totally believable when, in fact, it is utterly unbelievable.  There’s little in the story that had happened before – save a betrothal, marriage, and birth – but even the seemingly “normal” things were infused with completely abnormal revelations and realities.

Nothing that appeared true or felt right was as it seemed. Emmanuel, God with us, was being born to an unmarried youth.  The child, born of a virgin, raised by a carpenter in the lineage of David, but whose blood the baby didn’t share, would, through His adoption, reconcile and redeem those orphaned by sin and make them right with God.  Who could believe such a story?  But what a story it is!

Though the Christmas story was certainly one for its time, it is, more profoundly, a story for all time.  We live in a world where feelings and observable “facts” rule the day. Feelings shape our identities, and desire determines our way of living. Science is often used as an absolute truth until it conflicts with our feelings or experience, to which science must acquiesce. In a mere decade, things believed and held by the majority of humanity for centuries are quickly reversed or changed by social pressure and demands for cultural conformity.

Though the rhetoric is often mind-numbing and confusing, our current cultural dilemmas and personal insecurities are, at the core, the same as they were over 2,000 years ago: we are sinners and seek to find meaning, definition, and purpose of our creation.  We often do not see we need a Savior.

God’s solution to our dilemma came in the form of a helpless Savior, the Messiah, who would save the people from their sin.  But His coming was only possible, because two young, faithful God-followers, were willing to surrender themselves to something they knew was true, but couldn’t prove.  Yes, they had centuries of promises, prophecies, and scripture to guide their thinking (and we have even more), but ultimately they had to surrender everything they felt and thought they knew to allow what God revealed to them.

Christmas is a story of surrender.  Mary and Joseph had to surrender what was rational and trust in His revelation. God had to surrender His only Son so He could enter our world, die in our place, and make redemption possible.

As many of us struggle with desires, attractions, and feelings that go counter to everything we read in God’s Word, it’s easy to believe that God is wrong, our faith is misguided, or our hope is in vain.  But we must remember that Mary and Joseph faced this same dilemma as did Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Daniel, all the prophets, the disciples, and every person who trusts in God as Savior and Lord.

As we contemplate the meaning of Christmas for each of us, I pray we will consider how we can surrender to the revelation of God revealed in His Word and live joyfully and purposefully as truly free creations in His will.