Guest post by Stephen Altrogge
I have certain expectations when it comes to Christmas. I expect to drink egg nog, even though I don't really like it. I expect to listen to hours upon hours of Christmas carols. I expect to watch the movie Elf. I expect to drive around with my family and look at Christmas lights. And I expect to get some gifts. Twenty-eight years of Christmas experience has taught me what to expect.
But how would I feel if some of my expectations weren't met? What if I didn't get to do the things that I so look forward to? No Elf. No Christmas lights. No nog. No gifts. Could I be happy? Could I be content? Could I rejoice in what I have instead of what I don't have?
If I'm going to be content during Christmas, I need to make a concerted effort to remember what I have received, particularly what I've received in the gospel. So what have I received?
Forgiveness - Through the gospel I have received forgiveness from God. How quickly I take this for granted! I deserve fury, but instead I have forgiveness. I deserve wrath, but instead I've received mercy. God has really pardoned all my sins. They can't come back to haunt me like ghosts from the past. During the Christmas season I want to revel in my forgiveness.
Fellowship With God - Through the gospel I have fellowship with God. Through the gospel God calls me his friend. His son. His heir. His beloved. I can actually speak to God and he hears me. He gives his presence to me, and his joy to me. What is such a gift worth? What would I pay for such a gift? It's priceless. Precious. Invaluable. And because of Jesus I have it.
Freedom - Billions of people will wake up on Christmas morning as slaves of sin. Unable to break free from the desires and passions that are ruining their lives. Unable to change, but miserable because they can't change. Unable to love things that are truly lovely. In Christ I am free. Sin doesn't rule me, Christ does. He has set me free to pursue a life that truly matters. Apart from Christ my life would be dark and aimless. Christmas is a celebration of freedom.
This Christmas I can be content in Christ. The gospel is enough to make me content. Forgiveness is enough to make me content. Fellowship with God is enough to make me content. Freedom is enough to make me content. What else do I need to be happy? In Christ I have it all, and then some.