God with us.
Who could've thought that those three words would change everything...would change me!
If we let it, sometimes I think the Christmas story can become redundant...old...because we've heard it all before. We know the characters in it. We've sung the carols. At one time, it had become stale for me, too.
But then...I came to see the story of God's redemptive plan in a new light when those three words became real to me.
God - the Creator-King of the Universe who has existed for all of time chose not to leave us in our self-induced misery. Think about it for a minute...when our first parents sinned in the Garden of Eden, God could've ended his interaction with mankind for all time. He could've just said, "You all blew your chance. I'm done. You're done." We rightly deserved it to be so. As Adam and Eve sat hiding in the bushes, God instead chose to call out...to seek out...to put into action a plan that would redeem us. Would win us back. Would heal our broken condition. We sometimes fail to realize that our sin problem didn't make us Adam's victims but rather, Adam's participants. We continued the curse he sent into motion, and all of history has suffered because of it. But while God didn't remove the affects of our disobedience and we still live in a fallen world, He did provide a way for us to be rescued from it's eternal consequences. His actions proved that, while He doesn't need us, He wants us. And He calls us to Himself even when we turned our back on His love. Incredible!
With us - God didn't just remain in Heaven and decide He was going to take some remote action in order to reverse the eternal curse our sin had placed us under. God chose to send His only Son. God chose to dwell with us. To breathe the air we breathe, to experience pain just as we feel, to walk the earth we walk and, in so doing, identify with the sin-sick hearts of mankind in a way no other being ever has. No other ruler or king could ever boast of the fact that they were ultimately and eternally perfect. Every human who has ever ruled on this earth has carried a sin-sick soul like us...something only God's redemption can fix. When Jesus came, He did something that demonstrated love and forgiveness at a whole different level: the perfect came and gave His life for the imperfect. He didn't come to conquer nations...He came to win souls. He didn't come to prove His strength...He came to show us His weakness. He didn't come in power and fanfare...He came in the form of a little baby, born in a stable where animals reside. The Eternal God did the most un-kingly thing imaginable...and He came in the most unlikely way...because He chose to meet us in our greatest need.
God. With. Us.
Somehow, the more I think about it, the more these three words create greater vulnerability and humility in my heart. Because the more I see how vulnerable and helpless God was willing to become on my behalf, it makes me desire to be more open toward Him about my need. It makes me want to welcome other hurting souls in this shared longing for a soul-rebirth. For the Savior to set things right inside us.
We all come to the manger in the same condition: hurting, broken, sick, and dying. The darkness of our past lies firm on our conscience. Even for those of us who know the Christ-Redeemer as our Lord, we still see the result of our mistakes, our sinnings, our fault-pains and we cry out for hope. Here, in the story of an unlikely teenage pregnancy (supernaturally conceived), a carpenter, and manger we see God stoop low. We see God revealing Himself in human form to the lowliest: shepherds, carpenter, teenage girl.
Think of how many in Bethlehem missed the miracle in their midst that night! How many thought the shepherds announcement of angels singing and a baby lying in a stable were ludicrous and simply chose to go back to bed and sleep on...little knowing that their eternal redemption was at hand!
Think of the rough hands of Joseph, Nazareth-born carpenter, delivering God's Son into the world, and realizing that, while this wasn't his child, he had been chosen by God to be the earthly father for the King of the Universe!
Think of Mary, a sweet Jewish girl, whose life was turned upside down by the choice of God to bring forth His Son through her!
The unlikely signified God's plan. The impossible made it happen. This is how our God comes to us. The One who holds the universe together, the One who created all we know, the One who didn't owe us anything after our rejection of Him...He comes to us still. He welcomes us repentant ones to Himself and loves us...still.
Just maybe it will change our Christmas if we realize that the God of Heaven and Earth made His entrance in the weakest and lowliest manner possible. He could've chosen differently. And nobody would've thought anything of it if He had. In fact, lots of people would've found Him more understandable because of His arrival being more King-like. But God isn't about being "more understandable." He's about relationship...and can't we relate better when we know that He suffered as we suffer? When we realize that He knows what we deal with in this fallen world because He saw it too?
No other ruler would've ever taken such a path...no matter how much they cared for their subjects. But God did. Emmanuel did the hard thing...because He knew we couldn't come to Him any other way.
God with us. Who would've thought that those three words could change everything...can change us!