In what ways does Jesus provide us with a whole new way of life?

Christmas is a time to celebrate God’s gift to us. He gave us His Son who is the Lord and Savior of this world. As our Lord and Savior, He provides us with a whole new way of life.

In what way does Jesus provide us with a whole new way of life?

(1) Jesus provides hope.

In Luke 2, we learned that Jesus is the Savior, the Messiah, the King of this world. If we are honest, a Savior is what we are all looking for and want someone or something to save us because we know the world in which we live is broken. You only have to open the newspaper or turn on the nightly news to know that’s true.

At the core of that brokenness is our sin. Sin is more than just breaking the rules, sin is an all-out rebellion against God. Because we have sinned against God, we deserve for God to punish us for rebelling against Him. There is nothing we can do to escape God’s punishment, which means that apart from Jesus we don’t have any hope for the future.

Jesus, however, gives us hope because He takes our punishment for us. In doing so, He repairs our relationship with the Father so that we no longer live under the threat of God’s wrath being poured out on us.

Along with saving us from the Father’s wrath, Jesus also saves us from sin and promises us life eternal in a completely different world. A world that isn’t broken, but is perfect.

So, in Jesus, we experience hope. In Him, we have something to look forward to. And that hope is life changing.

(2) Jesus provides us with the ability to pursue forgiveness

Say I went over to your house with my kids. Right now, they are really into playing superheroes. When they play superhero’s, they run all over the house like crazy, chasing one another and sometimes knocking into furniture. Say one of them knocked your lamp over and it broke. Instead of making me pay for the lamp, you said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it.” Not only would that be extremely nice of you, but you would be absorbing the cost of that lamp because you would be replacing that lam with your own money.

That’s exactly what Jesus did for us except on an infinitely greater scale. He absorbed the cost, not of a broken lamp, but of the eternal punishment we deserve.

The remarkable thing is that He purposely came to provide us with forgiveness. You see, Jesus didn’t just happen to forgive because it was convenient for Him, or He was in the right place at the right time. Instead, He actually pursued us in an effort to repair our relationship.

For those of us who have experienced Jesus’ forgiveness, we should be willing and motivated to forgive others. We should even pursue others as Jesus pursued us, desiring a restored relationship as He did.

While forgiveness is costly and requires some vulnerability on our part. It’s something we should be willing to extend to others because it has been extended to us. Being willing to forgive is necessary if we expect to have any sort of deep and lasting relationship with others because inevitable a situation is going to arise where someone is going to sin against us and we are going to have to extend forgiveness. And that’s inevitable because we are all sinners.

But as you probably know sinners, forgiveness doesn’t come easy, which is why we need Jesus. We need Him to change our lives so that we are not only forgiven but can pursue forgiveness.

(3) Jesus provides us with the ability to deal with suffering. 

Reading some of the recent headlines, I’m sure at some point you’ve wondered why God continues to allow suffering in this world. Especially seeing all the suffering that has come about as the result of hurricanes, forest fires, and earthquakes. Along with natural disasters, we’ve also seen others suffer at the hands of ungodly people who have used and abused them. Reading about and seeing all this suffering, it’s natural for us to ask why. Why does God allow it to continue? It’s a common question. I wish I could tell you exactly why God allows everything to happen that happens, but I can’t.

While I can’t give you a definitive answer to why God allows suffering, what I can tell you is that God is not ambivalent about human suffering. He has and is doing something about it. Christmas is proof. As one author says,

“The gift of Christmas gives you a resource — a comfort and consolation — for dealing with suffering, because in it we see God’s willingness to enter this world of suffering to suffer with us and for us.” [1]

Knowing that God Himself has suffered on our behalf should help us to face suffering.

(4) Jesus pushes us to care for others physical needs

When Jesus was born, the eternal spiritual God became a man. Not in an illusory way, but in a real physical way. He didn’t just appear as a man; He was actually a man. That’s unique because most other world religions either believe the physical is bad and something to cast off, that God would never stoop to the level of a man, or that He would never willingly experience physical need. But Jesus did. As such, He knows what it means to be poor, to be a refugee, to face persecution, to hunger and thirst, to be beaten, to be falsely accused and ultimately be condemned to an unjust death. He knows what it’s like to face all those things. Since Jesus faced those things we know that God not only cares about our spiritual need, but He also cares about our physical.

We not only see evidence of that in His but throughout His ministry.He healed the broken, fed the hungry, spoke up for the oppressed and misled. He did all those things and more. He did them because He cares about our physical needs.

As His people, we should care about these things as well. Christmas, then, should be a reminder that we are to work for social justice, to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves, to continue to minister to the broken, the poor, and the hungry.

(5) Jesus allows us to reconnect with those we despise

Let me just say that no one is off the hook on this one. Sure, you might not be prejudice toward another race, but that doesn’t mean you don’t despise someone. For all of us, at least to some degree, there is someone we look down on, are snobbish towards. Someone we look at and say, “They are the problem with this world.”

But Christmas is the end of us thinking that we are better than someone else. That’s because Christmas tells us that we aren’t good enough. Jesus came to us instead of vice versa. His coming tells us that there is nothing we can do to get ourselves into heaven. We might be able to get into the best school, secure the best job, live in the best neighborhood, and rub elbows with the most connected people in town, but we still aren’t good enough to get ourselves into heaven. Jesus’ coming proves that.

So rather than thinking that we are better than someone else, rather than despising others, we need to recognize that they are just like us — sinners who are desperately in need of a Savior.

Conclusion

Thankfully that Savior has come. In coming, He provides us with a whole new way of life. One that:(1) Provides hope, (2) That gives us the ability to pursue forgiveness and (3) face suffering. (4) One that pushes us to care for others physical needs and (5) to reconnect with those we despise.

In all those ways and more, Jesus provides us with a whole new way of life. A way of life that wouldn’t be possible without the gift of Jesus. And that’s because He changes us from the inside out. He changes us through and through. He is a revolutionary gift that makes a revolutionary impact on our lives.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you recognize the revolutionary impact Jesus can have on a life?

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[1]  Tim Keller, The Gifts of Christmas, in Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, pg 39.

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What’s God’s Christmas Gift to Us?

For all the presents you opened this Christmas there are only a few that are truly life-changing, truly revolutionary. The smartphone is one of those revolutionary products. Now, I’m partial to Apple, even if they do slow their older phones down.

When you look at an iPhone or any smartphone for that matter, you are looking at a revolutionary product. Essentially it’s a powerful computer, GPS, camera, music player, and more right in your pocket. Having those things readily available has changed the way we live, interact with the world, and each other. Some for the better and some for the worse.

Take the camera for instance. Gone are the days where you have to remember to bring your camera or camcorder along to capture your families memories. If you have your phone, you have your camera.

Or how about directions. You no longer have to remember and rely on paper maps or printed directions from Google or Mapquest. Now, you open an app on your phone, type in where you want to go, and you are on your way. Most of the time you don’t have to worry about traffic because a lot of the mapping apps will route you around it.

So some of the presents under your tree are life-changing. But what these presents, these gadgets are able to change about your life is usually limited. They can’t and don’t change your life completely, and that’s because they can’t change you from the inside out. The Christmas gift God gives, however, does. It isn’t limited to external change. Instead, it has the ability to change us from the inside out. It has the ability to change everything about us through and through.

What is God’s Christmas Gift?

More than a what, it is a who. God’s gift to us is a person. In Luke chapter 2, we learn that Mary and Joseph had to return to Joseph’s hometown of Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus called for all to be registered. A census was to be taken for tax purposes. All the Roman world was to be counted.

Ceasar couldn’t have picked a worse time for Mary. She was 9 months pregnant, and in no condition to be traveling. But they had no other choice, so they started out for Bethlehem. Once they reached that city, we are told starting in verse 6 that:

“the time came for her [Mary] to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Lk 2:6b-7)

Now, from chapter 1, we know that the son who was born to Mary was Jesus, God’s Son. While that was known by Mary and her family, it wasn’t widely known by others. That, however, was about to change. Beginning in verse 8 of Luke chapter 2 we read,

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”” (Lk 2:8–14)

You see, soon after Jesus was born a group of angels appeared to some dirty, stinky ole shepherds out in a field watching over their sheep. Typical shepherds wouldn’t be the ones to receive important news. God, however, doesn’t operate in a typical fashion. What we think should occur is not always what God has planned. He often works in ways that confound and challenge us.

But nevertheless, these shepherds were the ones who received the news that a Savior, who is Christ the Lord had been born. They were the first outside of Mary and Joseph’s family to know that God’s gift of Jesus had been given to us.

With the angel’s announcement, we learn that several things about this newly born baby.

We learn that Jesus isn’t just another man. 

Jesus is the Savior, the Christ. In other words, He is the One anointed, chosen, and promised by God to be the One who would save us from our sins. The One who would repair our relationship with the Father and deal a death blow to Satan. He is the One through whom God would make this world right again.

We also learn that Jesus is our Lord. 

He is the One who has been designated by God to reign and rule over this broken world. He is God’s chosen King.

After the shepherds heard the news, they went to Bethlehem, saw the Savior for themselves, and then we are told in verse 20 that:

“…the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” (Lk 2:20)

Just as the Shepherds rejoiced that night seeing the Father’s Christmas gift, we too should be driven to praise and glorify God for sending Jesus. That’s because Jesus is our Lord and Savior who provides a new way of life.

In what ways does Jesus provide us with a whole new way of life? We’ll pick up here next time.

Question for Reflection

  1. Did you praise God for His gift this Christmas?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon What’s God’s Christmas Gift to Us?

 

Remember what we are celebrating this Christmas

Recently, I came across this quote by C.S. Lewis. He says,

“In the Christian story, God descends to reascend. He comes down; down from the height of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still, if embryologists are right, to recapitulate in the womb ancient and pre-human phases of life; down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created. But He does down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders.” — C.S. Lewis

I believe Lewis is right. Jesus does descend to reascend. He descends as a humble babe born in a manger, but He reascends into heaven as our Savior and King. As we enter the Christmas season, we need to remember that’s what we are celebrating.

We are celebrating Christ

Jesus is the Savior, the One who by His death humble provides eternal life. May we remember that this Christmas season. When we remember Jesus, may we be reoriented away from the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season back to Christ, so that we keep Christ in Christmas.

Shine as lights to the world

The reasons we want to keep Christ in Christmas is so that we will be driven to shine as lights in the world. Christmas is an opportunity for us to be a witness for Christ, so let’s take that opportunity. Let’s make it a point to shine as bright as the lights on our tree and houses to the world for Christ during this season.

Along with keeping Christ in Christmas and shining as lights in the world, may we also remember the hope we have in Jesus.

The hope we have in Jesus

You see, Advent is also a season of longing and hope. A season of longing for our Savior’s return, and a season of hope knowing He will return.

So this Christmas remember Christ, shine as lights, and long for His return. As a church, let’s help one another do that this Christmas season.

Question for Reflection

  1. How do you keep Christ in front of yourself, your church, or your family this Christmas season?

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