When we think of Christmas, it often conjures up images of perfectly trimmed Christmas trees, meticulously wrapped gifts and beautifully set tables. We love our picture perfect Christmases to be neat and clean with everything perfectly placed and arranged.
The irony of this image is that it is the opposite of the reality found on the first Christmas some two thousand years ago when Jesus, the Christ child, was born. Over the centuries, we have sterilized the reality of the situation in which Jesus was born and by doing so, have diluted the image God was displaying with the birth of Jesus.
Consider the picture the birth of Christ paints for us. Jesus was born to teenage parents at the end of a very long journey to a distant town. When they arrive, they discover that there is no room in the rustic first century “inn” and are offered a space with the animals. It is in this crowded dirty corner, with little privacy or protection from the elements, Mary gives birth to Jesus – the Son of God.
Jesus inhales his first breath in the company of animals. Jesus’ first smells are that of animal feces. Jesus’ first bed was a feeding trough. Jesus’ parents are teenagers who have journeyed a great distance together and are now sleeping in with animals. There is no crib, baby sleepers, diapers, nurses, doctors, showers, running water, bed, or heated hospital room. It is messy.
The God of the universe does not enter our existence in the sterile confines of a well-equipped hospital, but in the messiness of our world. This picture displays God’s love in the midst of our everyday broken and messy lives. The Christmas story communicates that our lives are not too messy for Jesus.
One of the common misconceptions for people about the church is that it is a place for clean and sterile people who have their lives together. This is not the case. Rather, the church is a group of people who are imperfect and broken but together we follow the God who entered our brokenness, bringing salvation in Jesus for all those who believe in Him. Your messiness doesn’t scare God or disqualify you from entering into relationship with him. The good news is, Jesus routinely enters the broken and messy places but He, also, never leaves them that way.
This holiday season let the reality of the Christmas story speak to you. Know that God isn’t scared of your brokenness and messiness but if we allow Christ into our lives by faith, there is new life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Discover Jesus this Christmas and never be the same.