The creator and master of this wondrous universe created us so He could be present with us. He was present in the garden. He was present with the Old Testament heroes, like Moses, Abraham, Noah, David, Solomon and so many others. But 2,000 years ago, after centuries of us turning our backs on God, He turned to us, and came to us in the form of a baby that grew up to be the God-man that would live a sinless life and die for our sins in order to offer salvation to us all. Jesus coming to earth was the ultimate act of humility. If you think about it, for God to humble Himself into the form of a human is astounding. He didn’t have to do that. But He did it in the most humble of ways. No fancy sleigh with flying reindeer. No bells jingling along the way. A simple birth in a stable.
But what a sound it must have been to hear angels praising God with, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” And the guests of honor were not the nobility, nor were they the religious leaders of the day. The guests of honor were simple, poor shepherds who were tending their flocks, when the sky lit up, filled with the heavenly host of angels who invited them to witness what has proved to be the second most important event in the history of the world—the birth of our Savior!
The birth of Christ was not only an incredible act of humility; it was also the beginning of a life that proved to be the living example of the ultimate sacrifice. With the life of Jesus, Scripture highlights the value of one person giving up his life for another. Jesus allowed himself to be killed in the cruelest fashion three days before the single most significant event in history—His glorious resurrection—the first Easter!
Christ showed us by example to give . . . to give sacrificially and to give it all up for another. The other thing that strikes me about the birth and life of Jesus is that He knew His purpose and He knew His mission. There was never a question about what He was here to do: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19
When I reviewed this and thought about it, it hit me that this is what we do at New Life! Jesus was not talking only of those imprisoned physically, nor was he speaking only of the physically blind and oppressed, but he was speaking also of those who are spiritually and emotionally imprisoned, blind and oppressed. At New Life, this is who we believe God wants us to seek to help, heal and give hope to. I encourage you to look at Christmas this year with this in mind, as a great time to focus on the things of Jesus. Not just the gift giving, but also the humility, sacrifice and mission of Jesus. Not just the presents, but His presence. If you do, the gifts of Christ will last far beyond the Christmas season. You’ll be able to, as Charles Dickens wrote, “ . . . honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
My simple request to you this Christmas season is that when you consider your Christmas and year end giving, would you please remember New Life . . . the spiritually and emotionally imprisoned, blind and oppressed who gain healing, hope and strength from applying God’s truth to their lives. With your financial gift, you’ll partner with us to further Jesus’ own mission statement that we carry on each day through His life-transforming ministry He calls New Life!
In closing, please take a moment to read this passage out of the book of Luke. When I read this passage I can’t help but think of Linus in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, walking on to the dark stage, the spotlight is on him as he drags his blanket with him to center stage, and in that simple, sweet, innocent voice proclaims these words: “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’” Luke 2:8-15