“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” – Philippians 2:5-8 NIV
I watch the dazzling lights of the Christmas tree and the smiling faces of my friends. A happy family gathered around the tree, laughing and spreading good vibes. I am thankful to be with them this Christmas but I can’t participate fully in their excitement and joy. There is a coldness in my stomach, and a hot tear is burning in my eye. This Christmas is so much different – a Christmas upside down. Nobody can understand my pain.
And then I hear this gentle voice in my thoughts, “I can. I understand you, my child and I deeply care.”
Christmas Upside Down – The Wonder of the Incarnation
On Christmas Eve we celebrate the glorious night when God entered our world as a baby. But for the rest of the universe, such an act equals unexplained humiliation. God, the Creator of the universe, formed into a normal human being, lived a life limited by the flesh, and died nailed to a cross. Why?
To become Immanuel – God with us, He needed to become one of us, subject to the limitations and needs of the flesh. In this way, He is fully able to empathize with our weaknesses and struggles and to intercede for us as our High Priest. (Hebrew 4:15 NIV)
As fully man, Jesus can understand us completely, more than any other human being on this planet. And as fully God He is able to help and comfort us perfectly.
He made Himself nothing, being in human likeness, so we can become everything in the likeness of Christ.
He took the nature of a servant in the world, so we can become kings and priests in His kingdom.
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death, so we can be restored and glorified in life.
The Unshakable Joy of Christmas
Christ’s birth and death are an example of how God can create something good even in the darkest hours of history. The cross and the resurrected Christ prove that there is nothing strong enough to take away our reason to have joy in the Lord.
We can rejoice when somebody takes advantage of us; we can rejoice when we are persecuted for our faith; we can rejoice when we taste death. God is stronger and bigger than death and this makes the believer’s joy unshakable.
Living Upside Down
Living in this time of history is not easy. The world seems out of control with a global pandemic erasing our normal, sending waves of uncertainty, chaos, and fear. Maybe you are tempted to feel abandoned by God in such a time as this.
Friend, let’s focus on and honor God’s Son today – the King of Kings whose greatness and peace will be without end. Let’s remember and celebrate our Lord Jesus Christ who is called the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)
He calls us to a life upside down – full of joy, peace, love, and contentment that are not a product of our circumstances nor are defined by them. Sustained by the loving presence of our Lord, we can patiently endure and thrive.
The Best Way to Celebrate Christmas
Pondering the wonder of the incarnation that introduced God’s Kingdom, I am awed and humbled. My heart is aching but the Healer is at work. He is still sitting on the throne; He is still the master of the world’s history. He was, He is and He is to come. One day, He will renew everything and wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. (Revelation 21:4)
Until then, let’s follow our Savior’s example and imitate His humility in our relationships with one another; not using our gifts, time, and resources for our own advantage, rather serving and practicing love.
This is the best way to honor God and carry the true Christmas spirit all year long.