The choice is ours. Will we be participants in a secular view of the Christmas season, or will we allow Christmas to be an opportunity for mission reset?
Perhaps unlike any other period of western history, the message of Christmas has almost disappeared into the desperate pursuit of material excesses that give little or no recognition to God.
In our all-consuming pursuit of escape from Covid’s restrictions, the message of Christmas is at risk of being lost more than ever! Through the clammer of activity, anxiety, even fear we occasionally hear a carol with words that invite the power and efficacy for resetting mission. Rich words like “Immanuel and incarnation”. As we face the world’s blindness of the presence of God even in the wake-up call of Covid, the word “Immanuel” is the reset of mission this Christmas. This amazing title in the context of Christmas simply means “God with us”. This name (Immanuel) with its rich meaning answers all the questions of anxiety and fear and the loss of control by reminding us that “Immanuel” declares God is with us even now!
This wonderful fulfillment of prophecy is foretold in Isaiah 7 v 14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel”. Jesus our Immanuel comes into our world and our life to be embraced by men and women.
The message of Christmas and mission gets even better as we explore the second word “incarnation”. It’s not a common word but is a powerful word that describes the God of the universe who chooses to be with us by taking on the mantle of humanity as seen in the recounting of the first Christmas in Bethlehem. God the Father sends God the Son conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
So, what does it mean when we call Jesus God incarnate? How does that idea affect the way we understand the role of Jesus in our lives? The incarnation means that Jesus, who was always God as part of the Trinity, became human and stepped into our world. Ultimately Jesus is “fully God, and fully human,” two natures in one being.
Our reason for rejoicing in the incarnation of God is realised in two important truths that secure GC3’s message of mission.
1/ The incarnation of Jesus defeats sin and death. Sin’s separation meant that we could not be with God, who loves us and wanted to be reunited with us. By coming in the flesh, dying, and returning to life, Jesus broke the power of death and provided the way to life, 1 Peter 3 v 18 – “for Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”
The fact that God the Son came and paid the penalty for our sins, buying us with His own blood, shows how far God is willing to go to get us back.
2/ The incarnation of Jesus provides an offer of salvation. Jesus said that we receive eternal life by believing in Him. When He defeated sin and death on the cross, Jesus became the high priest who intercedes on our behalf, and if we believe He is God and is raised from the dead, we are saved, Romains 10 v 9, “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved.”
So, Jesus is not only “God with us” but He has provided rescue for us and a message of hope to be shared.
“Immanuel” God with us” As we fast approach 2022 it is our privilege to know with certainty that at every turn of the coming year God is with us. The degree to which we will acknowledge Him and yield our lives to Him will determine our pathway towards eternity in His presence.
“God Incarnate” As we make this journey, we do so knowing that the God who took on the mantle of humanity fully understands our journey of life and wishes to protect, give counsel and provide peace. It is only the God who is man who can do this for you.
The reset of mission this Christmas can be for you the difference between a year of mediocrity in life, or engagement with God that has value that you will take into eternity.
The message of Mission makes sense of life even in this broken world. My prayer is that you will not just know that God is with you but that you will allow Him to move your heart, hands and feet on a pathway to maturity through engaging in Mission with God.