It’s hard to believe Christmas is almost here and we will be saying goodbye to 2009. I must admit Christmas is my favorite season of the year. As my time, money and mind are all pulled in many different directions during this magical month, I must also admit that I need to make a concerted effort to keep my focus on the only thing that really matters. Christmas is so much more than just a season of celebrating and gift giving. Christmas….Christ coming to earth…..changed EVERYTHING!
Why did He come? I know that question sounds pretty elementary to any of us that have grown up in the church. We feel we already know the answer to that question. It’s second nature to us. He came to die so that we might be saved. Hallelujah! I am forever grateful, humbled and overwhelmed by that fact. I would have no hope without Christ coming to earth, putting on flesh, taking my place on the cross and rising after 3 days conquering sin and death. That kind of love pushes me to my knees with gratitude. Wow! What He did for you and for me is almost more than I can comprehend.
At times I find myself tempted to stop right there when answering the question of “Why He Came?” It’s very easy to say that is the end of it. But God has been teaching me something as I’ve been going into churches of all denominations all across the country these last 8 years. If I stop there, I’m only partially answering that question.
Isaiah 61:1 says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Isaiah is prophesying about Christ in this verse. Yes, Christ’s death and resurrection sets us free from sin and death, but that’s only part of the story. He came to set us free from the things that continue to bind us even after we have accepted His salvation!
If there is one thing I’ve been learning, it’s that Christians can be some of the most bound people walking the face of the earth. I know what I’m talking about. I, myself, lived a very bound life for many years and didn’t even know it. I can still remember the moment when I realized I was not living in the freedom God had for me. Christ NEVER meant for His children to live a bound life. He came so that we would have life and have it to the full and that doesn’t just mean after we leave this world. That promise is for us here and now!
Even though we are in the midst of decorating, buying gifts, receiving gifts, attending parties, working on Christmas church productions and mailing out Christmas cards declaring this “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” many of us are walking around bound. Oh sure, we’ll tell everyone we’re fine because that is what we as human beings do, especially around the holidays.
The truth is many of us are feeling deep loneliness, sadness and despair. Some are wondering how they’re going to pay for everything this year when they’ve lost their jobs, while others are wondering how they’ll make it through the holidays for the first time without precious loved ones who have already been called to Heaven. Still others are trying to figure out how they’ll be able to stand in the same room with a family member who hurt them deeply this past year.
This is a messy, painful world, but Christ came to bind up our broken hearts and to set us free! He came to show us how to forgive. He came to heal the wounds of our hearts. He came as a tangible way of proving that He can be trusted in ALL circumstances, even when we have no idea what is happening around us. He came to give us the power to turn away from addictions, fear, bitterness, worry, anxiety, pride, doubt and despair while we’re walking on this earth. This freedom is ours for the taking right now. We don’t have to wait for it. It’s our choice to either take advantage of that freedom or to continue to walk around being weighed down by heavy chains we were never meant to carry. Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yolk of slavery.” We are not victims, we are victors through Christ and it all started by Him coming to earth as a baby!
My prayer for all of you this Christmas is that you will be able to focus on what really matters. If your heart is hurting, allow Christ to put His healing balm on your wounds. If you are struggling to forgive, allow Him to teach you, once again, how to forgive as He has forgiven each of us. If your mind is consumed with worry and doubt allow His peace to wash over you. Whatever your chains, release them and turn them over to that precious Baby in the manger who came to make ALL things new and to set the captives free!