We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

1 John 5: 20

 

Do you ever struggle to make sense of this world? I certainly do. We are confronted on a regular basis by the stories of events that totally defy reason and logic. People do things to each other that are too terrible to comprehend, and groups of people often bring greater chaos to the scene rather than aggregate reason. It is in these sorts of times that I am reminded that God has truly blessed me with this gift of His that can be called understanding. That doesn’t mean that I have perfect answers for all of the whys or that I have perfect peace and comfort in all circumstances.

 

Rather, God’s Word describes in thorough detail the world where I live. It is a place where the landscape has been tortured and fractured by the forces of satanic evil that are waging war across its surface. This same ancient conflict brings all of the people of the earth into its battle lines. There is no such thing as a non-combatant in this war for eternity. God’s Word provides clarity and understanding to this picture, for God is not the one who brings about the pain and the heartache of life. God’s design for this world was and remains one where peace and relational love prevail. Satan violently lashes out at this reality and seeks to destroy it. He uses advanced weapons such as disease, anger, jealousy, and hatred as tools of destruction.

 

For me, this knowledge helps to sort out cause and effect in my personal life and in the broader spectrum of the world around me. There is one source of goodness and love in this world and that source is God. There exists one and only one source of truth and that too is God. He has given us His Word as a directly tangible resource, and God has also provided His Spirit to His people in order to guide and counsel us as we search for the eternal truths that it contains. This Godly understanding does not eliminate pain, suffering, and grief, but it does eliminate confusion and doubt. Through all that happens in this life, God’s love is absolute and unshakable, His grace and mercy are present, and He continually holds His people close in the Father’s eternal loving embrace.

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And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn.

Luke 2: 7

 

Generally we make a very big deal out of the birth of a baby. This is the right thing to do. The entire process of producing new human life carries in and with it a real element of the miraculous. Also, God cares greatly about life, and each and every one of them is a gift granted from the Lord’s hand of creation. So, we tell our world about the birth, and we make careful note of all of the details surrounding it. The single fact that we take the most care with is the date of the baby’s birth. This is the one specific day that we affix to each person and celebrate throughout that person’s life.

 

Yet, with the most significant birth ever, and the most widely remembered baby in history, we do not actually know the date of His birth. Over time people have ascribed various dates to the birth of Jesus. Now most of us have settled on December 25th for the day of our celebrations. Still, through the work of science, especially astronomy and historical anthropology, it is thought that this date in late December is off by several months. You see the date doesn’t matter. The birthday celebration for Jesus really doesn’t either. Certainly the gift giving and hosting of elaborate meals are equally inconsequential. God does not tell us to worship His Son by these sorts of activities and events in and of themselves.

 

What the Lord does desire is that we recognize Jesus as God and accept Him as Lord over out lives. God is delighted when we celebrate the birth of Jesus by turning our hearts to Him and by following Christ into a life of grace, love, justice, and reconciliation. This is the sort of party that can and should take place on any day and on every day of our lives. As with Jesus and His birthday celebration, the setting and the decorations are of far lesser value than is the splendor of the glory of God that fills the lives of followers of Christ. Here is where we find the true birthday party for the Risen King. Yet, as we gather with our family and friends, hold our festive meals, and exchange gifts, this is the perfect time and the joyous place to make clear to all the great gift of new life that the baby whose birth we are celebrating has given to us.

Merry Christmas!