Christmas is a celebration of God’s Revelation of Himself in physical form.
In Creation, we can see His majesty, His eternal power, and His Godhead.
In the Law, we can see God “codifying” His character in written form.
In Jesus Christ, we see the fullest revelation of who God really is.
For in Christ “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9)
One of the great misunderstandings of our day is the idea that we are to view the Life of Christ as our example. As if we are to copy the works that Jesus did. As if there is no difference between what Jesus did and what we must now do.
This is especially evident in the new “social engagement” movement sweeping the Evangelical church. Pushed forward by men like Tim Keller, Russell Moore, JD Greear, and many others. Who teach that we should now focus on “living out the life of Jesus”. By becoming a church dedicated to social causes, economic causes, and political causes. To make the world a better place.
“Like Jesus did.”
However, this is NOT what we have been called to do.
The True Mission of Christ
The Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled His ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit. And while He remained fully God, He set aside His rightful power as God; and lived a life in total dependence upon the Spirit within Him to do the Father’s work.
This was what God had originally intended for Adam. If only Adam had not chosen to rebel against the Lord. And try to establish his independence from God.
Jesus Christ, the Last Adam, lived as God had always intended man to live. And Jesus demonstrated to us the way He wants us to live now. As believers indwelt and led by the Spirit of God.
Because, only in this way, will the watching world truly see Christ. Just as the Lord Jesus, by His obedience to the Father and His dependence upon the Holy Spirit, manifested who God really is.
Time to Rest
So, as the church gets all tied up in knots trying to put more people to work, to get more people to serve, and to get more people to follow some new “missional” way, the truth of the matter is, that the Lord is trying to get people to rest.
Because it is only in resting dependence on the Lord to reveal Himself through us, by His Spirit, that the world truly sees the Lord whom they must trust for salvation.
All the other stuff we do is merely fluff.
All our attempts to get the world to give our message a fair shake, to earn the right to preach to them, is wasted effort. It is just the latest bad idea, in a long list of bad ideas, that Christian leaders have come up with to appease the world “for Christ”.
Believers and Dead Works
And it’s not that good works are unimportant; it’s just that they can’t fulfill the Great Commission. They will not bring a lost world to Christ.
Yes, men will see our good works and give glory to God our Father. But good works done for that purpose are worthless.
In other words, the good works we do for that purpose, despite our best intentions, are fake. They are phony.
For example, there have been many times in my life that I thought I should go see someone who was sick or lonely, or who had some need that maybe I could meet. But many a time I just didn’t want to go.
I would try to talk myself into it. To guilt myself into it. And even rationalize that I might not get another chance to talk to that person unless I went. Or that I should just do it purely out of obedience to the Lord.
So, many times I went without really wanting to go. And sometimes things went well. And sometimes they did not. Sometimes I just walked away from the experience feeling like a phony. Despite all my attempts to be loving and caring and sincere.
You could say that there was something dead in my good work. What I had done felt like what the scriptures call, “dead works“.
I often thought that maybe I had done more harm than good. Even though there was nothing in what I said or did that could justify that feeling.
The point is that most of Christian work is done in much the same way. In fact, in exactly this way.
The work is often done with Christians doing their best to show love, compassion, concern, to meet the needs of others, and a host of other good things. But without any real “life” in the mix.
But many Christians will still argue that it just doesn’t matter.
They will argue that we still need to do what we are supposed to do. That we must do “what love demands”. And it is hard to argue against that; after all, if we truly know that something is “the right thing to do”, then we still have to do it.
But here is the “kicker”, as it were.
The Miracle of the Season
Doing all these “loving works” has very little to do with the work the Lord is truly doing with us.
He isn’t interested in all our activities, or how much money we are giving, or how many times we’ve gone to church lately, or whether we have volunteered to work in the church’s latest projects — in all their very important and necessary projects.
What He desires from us is that we know Him more deeply.
That we sit at His feet.
That we read and study and meditate upon and keep His words in our hearts.
And that we allow Him, moment by moment, to reveal Himself through us by His Spirit. By His supernatural working in speaking to the souls of men.
This is the miracle of the Christmas season.
That God took the form of a man, in whom He lived a perfect life, by the indwelling of the Eternal Spirit of God.
And that now He indwells those who know Him; and, through the Eternal Spirit, wants to reveal Himself to not only us, but also the watching world.
“LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.” (Isaiah 26:12)
May the Lord give you peace, rest, and joy this Christmas Season!!
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay