Tomorrow is New Years Eve, a holiday I’ve never really cared much for. It’s always been overwhelming to me to choose new resolutions that I end up failing at and it really feels like the formal end of Christmas. While there is this invigorating excitement that comes with the fresh dawn of a new year, it can be hard letting go of Christmas.
So often at Christmas, we focus on the sweet and tender babe nestled snug and warm in the hay of a tattered manger. But we cannot be so consumed with the glow of the tattered manger that we miss the dark reality of the mission behind it – the tattered cross. If there’s one thing we learn from Jesus, it’s that you can’t really separate love and sacrifice.
The reason for that sweet babe is our great sin. He chose to come. He chose to be born and live the not-so-glamorous life of being a nobody in the eyes of society. And He chose to walk Himself to Calvary – because the whole time, this was the reason behind it all. When He fed the 5,000, when He raised the dead to life, when He touched the eyes of the blind man as he gave him sight and told the woman at the well whom He had never met how many husbands she had – it was all because of the cross. Power and love displayed as proof so that when it all manifested and bubbled over in the most grueling, supernatural way, there would be no doubt – it really was Him and we really were the reason why He came.
Love without sacrifice isn’t really love; anyone can feel feelings.
Love is doing what’s hard and inconvenient because you care for someone else.
It’s dying to self. And Jesus did this better than any of us could ever hope to.
Maybe we commercialize Christmas more than any other holiday because it’s so easy to sell. Maybe it’s so easy because we make it about us and we’re not looking at the full picture. We have no problem with an innocent little babe born among livestock who has come to dwell among us, it’s the uncomfortable theory that He died in our place, leaving us obligated to a life of dedication to Him that we have a problem with.
There’s no sacrifice for us in Christmas. It’s warm and fuzzy and glowing with gentle, beautiful beams of light finally meeting the pitch-black, hopeless dark. He is the sacrifice of Christmas. Baby Jesus leaving His crown and thrown for hay and swaddling.
But the sacrifice of Calvary that forces us to choose sacrifice for ourselves truly began its narrative when the angel came to Mary. When Jesus left the home of heaven to wrap Himself snug in the womb of a young woman, that’s when it began. The unraveling of a dominion of darkness. No going back. Only forward to pierce despair and conquer death and rescue the broken.
As this Christmas season comes to an end and we press on into another year, may we keep the Spirit of Christmas – the Spirit of Him and His sacrifice of unfathomable love -with us always as if every day was Christmas morn. And may it drive us to sacrifice all of ourselves in every way we are called.