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First Thoughts

The Day After Christmas

I hate the day after Christmas.

Some call it the “post-Christmas blues” or “post-Christmas depression.” It happens when the most wonderful time of the year screeches to a halt. No more Christmas movies. No more Christmas food. No more get-togethers with family and friends. You go back to work. You go back to school. The Christmas cards come down off the mantle.

It just feels wrong to take down words like “love,” “joy,” “peace,” and “hope” from the walls of my house. But we dutifully do it.

How could something so good fade after only a month?

The good news is that it doesn’t have to fade.

Let me tell you why.

Christmas Came to Us

We tend to treat Christmas like a mood – something you get into and out of. With the right combination of music, movies, lights, and eggnog – you can get into Christmas. But the most wonderful thing about Christmas is not getting into it, but the fact that it came to us.

In 1 John 4:9, the Apostle John writes, “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God sent his only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through him.”

Christmas happened because God sent his Son into the world. God didn’t demand that the world reach out to him. He reached down to us. Now, we can have life through him. This means that Christmas is about God’s love coming to you.

Maybe this year you have experienced deep hurt in your life. A loved one is gone. You lost your job. You didn’t get accepted to that school. A relationship is broken. And because of this, you just can’t get into the “Christmas spirit.”

Don’t worry – Christmas has come to you through Jesus Christ.

Christmas Came Despite Us

The story of the Grinch is a Christmas classic.

You know the story – the Grinch tries to steal Christmas by taking away the gifts, foods, and décor of all of Whoville.

He manages to pull off the incredible feat in one night. He takes all his loot to the top of Mt. Crumpit and waits for the Who’s to wake up. Finally, they do. And the Grinch is stunned. The Who’s down in Whoville still sing their Christmas songs and begin celebrating Christmas.

As the book says:

“He hadn’t stopped Christmas from Coming! It came! Somehow or other, it came just the same!”

Most of us think that we’re like the Who’s – we need to keep the Christmas spirit alive regardless of what mean Grinch may try to threaten it by taking away toys, décor, or food.

But, biblically, we are more like the Grinch.

Christmas comes despite us.

Listen to the Apostle John again in 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Jesus was not born into this world because we deserved it. It’s the opposite. The Bible teaches that human beings are, by nature, enemies of God, rebels, and sinners. Instead of loving and enjoying God, we pay attention to and love ourselves and our own selfish desires.

But the glory of Christmas is that God sent his Son into the world anyway.

This is good news, isn’t it? God’s love isn’t based on us being lovely. Christmas would have never come if it was based on our goodness and worth. Instead, it’s dependent on God’s overwhelming love.

Christmas came despite us.

But it also came because of us. Now, how in the world could that be?

Christmas Came Because of Us

How can Christmas come despite us but also because of us?

Think again about 1 John 4:10 – particularly the last three words. Go look at it again. Why does it say Jesus was sent?

Not because we loved God, but that he loved us and sent Jesus…

“…for our sins”

There is a problem in comparing ourselves with the Grinch. The problem is that the Grinch is too good for us. The Bible doesn’t teach that our heart is “two sizes too small.” The Bible teaches that our hearts are made of stone (Ezek. 36:26-27). Our hearts don’t need to grow; they need to be transplanted.

This is why John says Jesus came to be the “propitiation” for our sins. This means that Jesus was born so that he could be punished and condemned for the judgment we deserve. He pays for sin in our place. Not because we’re good but because God is loving.

All Year Long

This is how the Bible helps us on December 26.

Christmas doesn’t come one time each year. Christmas came once. It happened.

And when it happened, it forever established in the sight of the entire world that God is love, that he loves to save people who don’t deserve it, and that he can forgive the worst of sinners.

The reason we hate December 26 is because we know that the things we celebrate at Christmas – love, joy, peace, hope – are supposed to last. And this is what Jesus came to provide through his death and resurrection.

The point of Christmas is for us to turn from our sin – everything we center our lives on that is not God – and to trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection to save us from our sin.

This will prepare your heart for December 26th and all the things in life that are much worse than the “post-Christmas blues.” You can stake your life, your hope, and your joy on the love God has shown in sending his Son – to us, despite us, and because of us.

That will never fade.

Spencer Harmon is the Nocatee Campus Pastor. He is the co-author of three books: Letters to a Romantic: On DatingLetters to a Romantic: On Marriage, and Letters to a Romantic: The First Years.

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