Why We need Christmas

George Strombopolis used to have a show on CBC called the Daily Show. In one episode, he had the prominent atheist, Richard Dawkins as his guest. They spoke about society and culture with Dawkins promoting his view that the only reality is science and reason. In his opinion, religion should have no place in society. Now, this is nothing new. Back in 1841, Ludwig Feuerbach said that God is a projection of our own needs onto reality or it is a creation of an institution to rob us of our identity. In other words, we were not created by God, rather we created God. It is the difficult situations in life cause us to create a god to help give us hope and creating God sustains that hope.

At this time of the year, we celebrate the Christmas story. Characters included in this story are a pregnant virgin named Mary, her husband, a carpenter named Joseph, some angels and shepherds, Magi, a king named Herod and a little child, named Jesus. Is this story of the Son of God coming as a human, born of a virgin, living a life of sinless love, and dying for sinners that all who believe might have eternal life, a creation of human imagination because we need it to be true? Or is it true, and therefore we need to believe it? That is the question every one of us faces every Christmas.

Our culture today is focused on self: self-fulfillment, self-gratification, self-indulgence; simply put, we are self-absorbed. The majority of the people in the world live as if God does not exist. We tend to compartmentalize our lives allotting time and space for work, school, our vacations, family time, and for some church.

Bible says Jesus is Immanuel – God with us. What does that mean? How does it affect our lives today?

Historically, people have had differing views of God but generally, He is seen as an old man on a throne or a mean judge, ready to discipline us for the most minor infraction. He is seen as being transcendent, out of our reach, unknowable, and invisible. In the Old Testament, we are told that God is Spirit and therefore could not be seen and if you did get a glimpse of Him, you would die.

In the New Testament, we are given a different description of God. In Colossians, it tells us that Jesus is the “image of the invisible God.” That means when people saw Jesus, they saw the physical representation of God. We read in John 1 that, “The Word became flesh and lived among us”. Word is a reference to God. In Jesus, we have God in the flesh. In Jesus, humanity could see God, touch God, hear God, probably on a hot Middle Eastern day, even smell God. Jesus put a face, a body, a personality to this invisible God.

Why would God do this? Why not just remain out of sight? One of the characteristics of God is He is love. It was love that brought Him into the world to accomplish tasks we could not do on our own. We read in Mark 10 that Jesus came as a ransom for many. He removed the barrier that separated humanity from God. He accomplished what we could not.

We read in John 9 and 12 that Jesus came to release us from our moral blindness. Look at our society and how we live. Presently, almost half the nations in the world are at war or at least dealing with a conflict within their borders or with their neighbours. All of this chaos infects our lives and keep us from loving each other. One of Jesus’ most important tasks can be found in John 3. Jesus came to give us hope by offering Himself as a sacrifice, to make atonement for our sin, so we could have eternal life and assurance that life is more than what we experience here.

When we look around us today, what do we see? We are in the midst of a pandemic that has affected almost everyone to greater or lesser degrees. At the time of writing this, over 1.7 million lives have been lost. The economic fallout has been extreme. Is this now our reality? Is what we see around us all there is? Does life have no significance other than what we experience here? The answer is No! If it was, what Jesus did was a waste of time and a wasted life.

The proof that many people like Richard Dawkins and Ludwig Feuerbach are looking for is found in the Bible and in the Christmas story. Christmas means that God sent his Son so that we could believe and have eternal life. This is the hope Christianity offers to all. The hope we look to is eternal life – the promise that one day, we will live in a place without pain, crying, sorrow and death. And that promise is the gift of God through Jesus Christ.

Christmas is a wonderful time of celebration. Although our current pandemic situation means we cannot gather with friends and family, nor share in food and drink, we can still celebrate what is behind all of our joy. The true meaning of Christmas, that God sent His Son, to be born of a virgin named Mary, live a perfect and sinless life, and to die a cruel death on a cross, and was raised from the dead on the third day in order that we might have hope to live this life and have the assurance of the life to come. May that truth fill our hearts with hope and joy this Christmas season. Merry Christmas everyone and may your New Year be blessed.


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