I’m about to wax religious here, so if that sort of thing bothers you, please come back another day.
Over two thousand years ago perhaps the single most important event in history occurred. The son of God came to earth as a child. This was not just to fulfill prophecy or make some point. It was part of the plan of a just and merciful god to provide a savior to save us from our sins and succor us in our mortal condition. Christ could not empathize with us in our circumstances if he did not go through the full gamut of human experience himself. We cannot fully put ourselves in another person’s shoes, but Christ can.
What is more, in taking upon himself the pains of our sins, he experienced suffering far beyond anything we could ever endure. Yet he does not consider us wimps for not being able to bear even our own infirmities and sins. On the contrary, he understands, and when we turn to him he comes to our aid. He doesn’t necessarily remove our burdens, but he does take part of the load while we gain strength.
But most importantly, of course, he paid the price for our sins. If we are willing to accept him as our savior he offers forgiveness, so long as we pay him back on his terms. While among us on earth he was quick to offer forgiveness, coupled with the injunction “Go and sin no more.” Yes, it is through faith that we gain forgiveness, and yet if that faith does not manifest itself in a change of heart it is not truly faith. True faith is strong enough to change even our actions. Yes, it is through grace that we are saved, but if nothing changes on our part then we have not truly accepted him as our savior. Christ sacrificed himself to save us from our sins, not necessarily in our sins, though it’s pretty much a given we won’t be perfect by Judgment Day and there will still be a sizable amount of unrepented sins that his grace will need to cover.
How grateful I am that Jesus Christ, our eldest brother, came to earth and paved the way for all of us to find our way home to our Heavenly Father. I cannot begin to fathom what he went through for us, nor the love that would be necessary for him to do so. As the world grows increasingly embarrassed about religion in general and Christ in particular, I want to raise my voice as one who still believes. They may try to turn Christmas into just another holiday, but so long as the tradition of gift-giving remains, there will still be a spirit of Christ in Christmas. Any time we overcome our selfish natures to do something nice from someone else we are connect with the spirit of Christ within us.
I still believe, and not in some diluted Christ, nothing more than a master teacher who gave us a subversive moral code. I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Creator of Earth and Heaven, the Redeemer of mankind, and guide to all who would follow Him. I believe in the Christ who knows us each individually and can help us in unique and powerful ways. I believe in the God made flesh, coming to earth as a baby and growing to manhood while experiencing firsthand the trials and travails of humanity, and eventually giving himself as a sacrifice to open the doors of mercy.
The challenge is to not just remember Christ at Christmas, but throughout the year. Not just through carols and gifts, but through following his example and in doing good to our brothers and sisters. For when we have done it unto the least of these our brethren we have done it unto Him.
I believe, but I do not thank Him enough. I do not repent sufficiently. I fall far short of my potential as a child of God. But I hope to be a little better tomorrow than I was, a better person next year than I have been. I hope to give a little more of my heart, a little more of my will over to my Savior so that he may make of me much more than I could hope to make of myself.
Let us commit ourselves at this Christmas time to go forward, following Christ’s example. Let us demonstrate our faith through the way we treat those around us. Let us open our hearts to Him to make of us something better. Let us not be found doing good only at Christmas.