I just wanted to write you a note to say, “Happy Birthday!”. Congratulations on the day of your birth. Tomorrow is the day that you were born fully human while remaining fully God. And that’s a pretty big deal.
I must admit, I haven’t always understood your purpose or what exactly the result was, but I just wanted to say; on this anniversary of sorts, now I get it. I finally get it. I finally understand why you came here, in the form of a helpless baby, just to die a terrible death 30 (ish) years later.
Jesus, you know I grew up in the church, and you know I can talk the talk and walk the walk… in my sleep… with one arm tied behind my back. 🙂 but why then did I always feel so guilty?
Why did I always feel like the real me inside was screaming to get out when I was doing everything I was “supposed” to do? You know that’s why I left don’t you? You know that’s why I did everything I could to piss you off.
“Ooo look at me Jesus, I’m not going to church and I just said a cuss word!”
But I have to admit, I think I finally realized what all this is really about.
It’s not about how much biblical knowledge I have or how many Christian bumper stickers are on my car, or that I go to church every Sunday.
And it’s not about knowing all the answers and never making mistakes.
And I know it’s not about what music I listen to, what movies I watch, or that I must vote Republican for goodness sake!
No, that is not why you came all the way here from your mighty throne to be born in a stable, of a virgin, to become a carpenter’s son.
You came here to give the greatest gift this world has never understood- Grace.
Grace is not a normal human response. Grace is not how we are hardwired to think or act. Grace is a gift, freely given, that does not look at fairness or has any scale of measure. Grace looks not at what is supposed to be, what is “right”, or who should win.
Grace is not of us.
I was right earlier when I said we were screw ups. We are. We are major, complete, and total screw ups. You know, “to ere is human”. No one is perfect. No one has the ability to live a perfect life.
But you know, to get to heaven to live with God eternally, you have to be perfect. There is no way around that. There is no grey area, no “mostly” good. Heck, there is no “good”; only perfect, and us.
But God created us in His image. He has a soft spot for us. All throughout the Bible God shows His Grace to us; by allowing an adulterer to become a mighty king, a thief to become a prophet, a murderer to become the father of a nation. God has a reputation for taking royal screw ups and using them in huge ways. That is grace. We don’t deserve that. We don’t deserve anything. We are the ones that turned away from Him. We all are meant to suffer for our pride, our hatred, our lust. And a lot of us do. That is justice. That is right. But that is not grace. Most of us don’t know that there is freedom from that which binds us. We aren’t stuck being screw ups forever. We have a chance to be seen as we were supposed to be; perfect, and to live with our Father.
And that’s where you come in, is it not Jesus? That’s where you take your place, as the perfect human that dies the worse death; suffering, so that we don’t have to. Dying in our place. It’s not fair. It’s not right or just.
But it is grace. It is what God is best at. Our loving Father wanted to be with us so badly that He sent His son, down to Earth, to live a lowly life, and to die an excruciating death. We are not deserving of such a gift, such love.
And I finally understand. It’s not that being a Christian gives me a list of rules to follow to be good. It’s not that I have to look, sound, or act a certain way. Being a Christian merely means that you know you will never get it right, that there is nothing you can do to earn your passage out of hell, so instead you accept the offer that God laid down; grace. There is nothing to do, because it has already been done. Just acknowledge that and your mistakes will be wiped out of history; past, present, and future.
That amazes me.
It’s not like my sin magically disappears and all I want to do is sing hymns and read my Bible; not at all. But I do know that I’m never going to get it right, and that’s alright. I’m human, a screw up but my God has saved me, through His grace, so that I may spend eternity with Him.
So thank you Jesus, thank you Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men, angels, and star.
and Merry Christmas.