So That We Might Live
Jesus was born to give us life. The Christmas story has all the drama of a death-to-life story, because the baby in the manger came to die in order to give life to all who believe in him. If you have placed your hope and trust in the Messiah, Jesus, you know he came to give you life. But here is the burning question: what do you think that means? I think many of us have a strong belief and understanding in salvation past, the forgiveness we have received in Christ, and many of us have a pretty sturdy hope of salvation future, the eternity we will spend with Christ, but we are not as sure about the present benefits of the work of Jesus in the here and now. I am afraid that many of us have a big gap in the middle of our understanding of the gospel.
One of the beautiful things about the Christmas story is that it doesn’t offer just my past forgiveness and future hope, but everything I need right here, right now. Jesus came so that I would have everything I need to fight the discouraging battle with private sin. Jesus came so that I would have everything I need to have a peaceful relationship with my angry neighbor. Jesus came so that I could stand against the temptations of racism and prejudice. Jesus came so that I could forge with my spouse a marriage of unity, understanding, and love. Jesus came so that I could parent my children with patient wisdom and grace. Jesus came so that I could face the realities of life in a fallen world without doubt or despair. Jesus came so that I would be granted not only the promise of daily forgiveness, but also the promise of fresh starts and new beginnings. Jesus came so that the hate in my heart would be replaced with love and the anger in my heart would be replaced with peace.
The ultimate gift, Jesus, was given so that you and I would have all the things we need to face all the things we encounter between the moment we first believed and the moment of our last breath.
The Gift We Already Have
I love how Peter captures the now-ism of the work of Jesus Christ for each one of us. “His divine power has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). With the heart of a good pastor, Peter starts his letter to people who are facing hardship with a reminder that in Christ they have already been given everything they need to face whatever they are facing. He says that they have been given everything they need for godliness. Now what is this thing called godliness? Godliness is living a God-honoring life between the “already” of my conversion and the “not yet” of my final home-going. Peter knows how important and life-changing it is to know and believe that Jesus came so that we would have all that we need to live as he intended right now. Understanding and believing this will change you and the way you live.
If you do not carry this identity with you, you will look to people and things to give you identity. If you do not have this hope, you will look for hope where lasting hope cannot be found. If you don’t carry this assurance with you, you will live with unrest in your heart. If this reality isn’t the foundation of the way you approach life, you will live on a constant search for wisdom and strength. The ultimate gift, Jesus, was given so that you and I would have all the things we need to face all the things we encounter between the moment we first believed and the moment of our last breath. Now that’s a story worth celebrating!
Freedom from Five Things
The right here, right now grace of Jesus frees us from those things that tend to capture our hearts and derail our living. He came so that we would be free from the power of:
1. Fear. Many of us are afraid of being known or afraid of honestly facing what’s inside us. Here’s the good news of the right here, right now benefits of the birth of Jesus. There’s nothing that could ever be known, exposed, or revealed about you that isn’t covered by the present grace that is yours because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
2. Regret. Many are rendered timid or even paralyzed by choices, failures, and sins of the past, and when you are, you carry around a heavy load of guilt and you tend to hide in shame. The right here, right now forgiveness of Jesus not only liberates you from the past, but also welcomes you to fresh starts and new beginnings.
3. Discouragement. Many of us are simply overwhelmed by what’s on our plate. We feel unable, and we think we are doomed to failure. God’s right here, right now grace assures us that God will never call us to a responsibility without also gifting us with what we need to do what he has called us to do.
4. Denial. Many of us are tempted to grab for peace by denying the dark things that are still inside us and the struggles that are outside us. But the right here, right now grace of Jesus frees us from having to play monkey games with the truth. Jesus’s works assure us that whatever we’re facing, we’re not alone and we have help that is way beyond our limited personal resources.
5. Desire for control. Many of us wake up each morning wishing we had more control so we could free ourselves from what we find difficult. The right here, right now grace of Jesus assures us that the One who was born on Christmas now rules over all things for our sake. Our lives may be out of our control, but they are always under his control.
So as you celebrate Christmas, celebrate the abundant life that is yours today because of the birth of that baby in the manger.
This article is adapted from Come, Let Us Adore Him: An Advent Devotional by Paul David Tripp.