Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Real Meaning of Christmas

I've seen a couple of versions of this knocking about the internet over these past few days:

The true meaning of Xmas is an imaginary man who sees everything you do and rewards you if you’re good all year. Just like Santa.

Some may think that Jesus is an 'imaginary man', but with the wealth of historical detail and unquestionable facts pointing to the existence of the Lord Jesus, it isn't that I wanted to take issue with. Rather, it's the whole basis of what is supposed to be Christianity as found in the statement: 'an imaginary man who sees everything you do and rewards you if you're good all year.'

It might make a snappy soundbite, but this is certainly not Christianity! The gospel of Jesus Christ is not that those who are good will be rewarded - it simply doesn't work, because none of us are good enough. We can't earn any favour with God; we don't deserve anything from God. So if Christianity were about us being rewarded for being good for a year, then none of us would receive any reward.

But if you've been listening again to the message of the angels, the testimony of Jesus, and the promise of the Scriptures, the coming of the Lord Jesus is all about grace - undeserved grace for the sinner. We deserve hell, but Jesus came from heaven to rescue us by dying in our place, enduring our hell, so that we can share his heaven.

It's why one of the first things you'll do at the church service is to confess your sins - to acknowledge that we aren't good; that we have sinned, and so we ask God to forgive us and to change us. This is the good news of the gospel - that Jesus came to save sinners, not reward the righteous. We see that repeatedly in Luke's Gospel in particular.

The real meaning of Christmas is the Son of God who became a man, who sees all that we do and offers forgiveness for those who are bad, and condemnation for those who think they're good enough! Anything else isn't Christmas and isn't Christianity.

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