Christmas Day is arguably one of the most celebrated days in the history of the world.
What is its signifcance and why is it so widely celebrated? When we think about Christmas one of my favourite verses is from 2 Corinthians 8:9. This is how it is translated from the original Greek in the New International Version:
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor so that you through His poverty might become rich.”
The Message paraphrase of the same passage says:
“You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us—in one stroke he became poor and we became rich.”
In that single verse for me is the meaning of Christmas. What do I mean?
That Jesus Christ, who was equal with God the Father and Holy Spirit, who was enjoying perfect love and peace and wealth in every possible way, should choose to come to earth for you and me.
He who had all the riches of heaven should choose to humble himself and come to earth as a baby.
True humility is not humiliation or low self-esteem or false modesty whereby we try to sheepishly try to hide our talents. Rather it is the noble choice to forgo your status, deploy your resources or use your influence for the good of others before yourself.
Here are 4 lessons about life we learn from this:
1. Jesus came to identify with our own ordinariness.
It is staggering to consider that Jesus chose to come into this world born not in some rich country or palace, not the child of wealthy influential parents, but the child of a poor peasant family with no influence. Instead of a beautiful palace with technology and every comfort, He had the dirty manger where animals eat.
In my own life Jesus has been my upside down king who has again and again challenged me to think about what is really valuable and worthwhile in this world. His decision to take on the ordinary challenges me to see that the most important thing in the world is love for others. He came to identify with our ordinariness.
2. He came not to be served, but to serve.
Although the Bible says that He is the everlasting king of the universe and one day everyone will have to bow before Him, He did not cling onto His power or authority. (see Philippians 2:5-11)
He chose to live a life of service.
More than that, He came to show that true greatness is shown in service. (See The Art of the Basin and Towel). That has been a great challenge again to me as I look at my own desire to put myself first. But Jesus shows us what true service and humility is.
3. He shows His power not through strength, but through weakness.
This is such a radical concept today as it was in the first century. Crucifixion was the lowest place in the Roman world – it was the ultimate punishment. And yet through that apparent weakness came life and salvation. Jesus chose the cross for you and me.
We celebrate His birthday at Christmas, but much more important than His birth is that He came to die. (See A Day that Changed the World).
4. He says come to me by first acknowledging you can’t come on your own.
Time and again God has shown His power in my life by me first admitting how weak I am. I talk personally about that in the 15 minute video ‘Just As I Am‘ along with 9 Ways To Look At Your Failures With The Eyes of Faith. Also weakness and apparent failures teach us important truths about life – see What Can J.K. Rowling Teach Us About Failure? and Failure and Depression: The Other Side of Lincoln’s Life.
For more about Christmas see: What Is The Message Behind Christmas? and Why You Cannot Afford To Miss This Gift This Christmas.
There is also a short fun 5 minute video Is Father Christmas for Real?
What does Christmas mean to you? What lessons about life come to you? Please feel free to share below.