God’s Purpose for Christmas
by Alex Chediak
The Christmas decorations are out, and holiday music fills the air. But Christmas means different things to different people. For some, the Christmas season is about having survived another year, enjoying extra time to reconnect with family and friends, and bargain-hunting for great gifts. In fact, many who celebrate Christmas don’t think much about a reason for the season. Or if they do, it’s just a swirl of unrelated thoughts about family traditions and a generic sense of good-will toward all.
The Reason for the Season
How about us, as Christ-followers? What’s our reason for the season? I hope we would agree that Christmas is the recognition that Jesus, God’s Son, came to live among us, and ultimately to die and be resurrected.
But why was it necessary for Him to come to earth to die? Why the cross? Grappling with this, British social activist Steve Chalke once explained:
The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse—a vengeful father, punishing his son for an offence he has not even committed….. The truth is the cross is a symbol of love. It is a demonstration of just how far God as Father and Jesus as his son are prepared to go to prove that love.1
It’s an attempt to defend God the Father’s reputation: Surely God couldn’t require the death of His innocent Son on behalf of the sins (offences) of others, could it? Wouldn’t that make Him akin to some pagan god, demanding the blood sacrifice of a victim in order to be appeased?2 Similarly, Rob Bell’s best-selling book Love Wins advised that we do not need to be rescued from God — since God, in fact, is the rescuer.3 How can God rescue us from himself?
Our view of the cross — the heart of Christianity and the fixed objective of Jesus’ life (Luke 9:51) — is invariably shaped by our view of God’s character, our status as fallen human beings and our ultimate accountability to our Maker. Jesus’ life and death will only seem as precious as our moral condition before God seems horrendous. It’s the badness of the bad news that makes the good news so sweet…
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