God and the Christmas story

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“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-30

As corny as it might sound these days, it really is the most wonderful time of the year. The gross commercialism that bombards us every day of the season can easily cloud what makes Christmas truly special.

The coming of the long-awaited promised Messiah is rightly celebrated by Christians with great joy. Immanuel, God with us, has invaded history and the hope of the ages is manifest through a helpless infant, born to a young and seemingly insignificant virgin. Yet, he was God, sent by God, to become the atonement for the sins of the whole world.

Amazing! While this is unbelievable for the “wise” of this age, that truth is the crux of our faith.

What is especially incredible about this cosmic event is the means by which the Almighty brought it about according to his own eternal plan. When we consider the details surrounding Christ’s birth into humanity, the underwhelming circumstances God orchestrated to bring the Lord of Lord and the King of Kings into the history of mankind, we can’t help but wonder what he was thinking.

This incredibly wonderful event would surely call for the “red carpet” treatment; lights, cameras, dignitaries and such. Not so with our God. He always does it his way. Isaiah 55:8-9 makes it clear that God has different ideas and methods than those we humans value. His thoughts and his ways are radically different from ours. Apart from supernatural revelation, his plan for creation defies all human understanding. In other words, without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, we would have no clue concerning God’s master plan for the destiny of men.

The fact is that God isn’t interested in man’s approval. He has the audacity to unilaterally move as he pleases without consulting us beforehand. He is sovereign, whether we like it or not. He is not obligated to honor what we tend to honor. He is never impressed with us, yet is ever concerned about us. He loves us unconditionally.

When we try to earn that love, we come up looking foolish. When we try to impress each other with our own significance, he is totally “turned off.” He will never co-sign our debts, nor sign off on our personal agendas. For us to expect that would be fruitless manipulation and idolatry. He, alone, controls human destiny. We either deal with that fact or we will be in needless conflict with reality until we do.

Ironically, God’s favor was upon an insignificant teenaged girl. She would be the human vehicle to carry divinity into humanity. That’s a mystery.

Apart from an angel’s intervention, the whole deal would have collapsed into scandal. Even Mary could hardly believe the promise of Jesus, but was, nevertheless, willing to submit herself, body and soul, to the word and will of God. She may have been ignorant, but she was certainly wise.

We can surmise from scripture that Joseph, Mary’s fiance, was a man of limited means, an ordinary carpenter living far away from his hometown, descended from the lineage of King David, but a long way from any sort of current nobility. By today’s standards this unlikely couple would be looked upon as unsophisticated, uneducated “bumpkins.”

King of kings? Lord of lords? These could not be the parents of such a significant character to the history of Israel, much less the whole world. Yet, by God’s will, they were.

Except for an angelic outburst of celebration, some wise “magi” bearing gifts and a few rag-tag shepherds, the birth of Jesus Christ would have gone completely unnoticed.

Furthermore, his origin and pedigree were always an issue for the establishment of Israel. The elitists of his time (and ours for that matter) struggled with the natural facts of his existence. He was and will always be a dichotomy that challenges the intellect of men.

He is totally human, totally God, all powerful and all wise, yet humble, loving, and submissive. He is a king like no other, unique in his being, yet ordinary in his natural circumstances. The world rejects him because he doesn’t seem to be “special” enough. He just doesn’t fit the human mold for celebrity status.

The whole point here is that God is not influenced by what men value. We either believe in him and worship him, or we do not. We either obey his word, or we ignore it. His authority is never threatened by human evaluation. He will forever do as he pleases.

That is good news, indeed, because it is his eternal desire that all of us would come to a saving knowledge of him through his Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16). This is why we celebrate Christmas. This is why we can rejoice and be glad.

No status or significance to the world is necessary to qualify for this amazing grace. His Son, our Lord, has become to us the wisdom of God, our righteousness, our holiness and our redemption. He, alone, is our hope and salvation. All that is required is for us to believe and receive the gift of God.

Judy and I are excited about what the New Year holds for us as we submit ourselves to his grace and mercy. We pray that God’s blessings find their way to you and yours in this special time of the year. Merry Christmas!

[LeRoy Curtis of Peachtree City is pastor, teacher, missionary and author. In 1990 he and his wife, Judy, answered a call from International Outreach Ministries to establish the Kenya Ministry Training Institute in Kitale, Kenya, where LeRoy wrote the Basic Inductive Bible Studies (BIBS) curriculum. The Institute continues to train pastors and church leaders to a scriptural worldview in East Africa. The curriculum, available in English on Amazon, has also been translated into Spanish and is being currently used in Latin America. You can read about LeRoy and Judy’s experiences and observations in their book, “Out of It in Africa: Dispatches from Clueless Missionaries.” LeRoy and Judy currently reside in Peachtree City. You can reach them at kuka.nyongesa@gmail.com.]