We cannot feel the warmth of a loving relationship with God until he becomes personal to us. And he cannot become personal to us until we see him as a God who has come close to us, a God who did what he did for us. At its core, that is what Christmas is all about: it’s not about presents; it’s about presence.
Experiencing the presence of Christ changes everything. When we sit in stunned awe of who Jesus is and what he has done, doctrine becomes a dynamic relationship; the verse becomes a voice. This Christmas, I pray that the Son of God would be preeminent, not just in our theology, but in our lives as well.
1. May Christ be preeminent in our worship.
The mystery of the incarnation should move us to worship. If the reality of the Almighty God becoming a weak human being does not overwhelm us, then we haven’t understood it at all.
Even more incredible, what God was doing through Christ, he was doing for me and for you. So even though he could feed 5,000, as a man he became hungry, so he could say to you, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger.” Even though he spoke the worlds into existence, as a man he grew weary, so he could say to you, “Come to me, all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Even though he was adored by legions of angels, as a man he grew up in poverty, was condemned by Pilate, scourged by whips, and scorned by man. All of this, so that God could say to you, “I made him who knew no sin to become sin for you, so that in him you might become the righteousness of God.”
How does that not make us burst into worship?
2. May Christ be preeminent in our affections.
I’ve often heard people—usually young—object to me about Christianity, “I’d like to believe this, but I’m worried that believing this will mean I have to stop having sex.” (It’s rarely this straightforward, but it often comes down to things like this.) Part of me wants to explain to the objector that God’s design for the world really is the best, that he’s not out to ruin our fun, but to deepen our joy.
But another part of me finds this kind of objection so flawed that I don’t want to answer it at all. It’s as if you had a rare disease that was bound to kill you, and someone finds a cure—but that cure involves never eating apple pie again. Sure, you may like apple pie, but would you whine about it? No! In comparison with what you’re gaining, you’d take the trade-off in a second. When you realize how great a treasure God himself is, the pleasures of the world don’t dominate you anymore.
And when you realize how great a treasure God is, very little can devastate you. You still feel pain—sometimes deep and wounding pain—but it doesn’t have the power to drive you to despair. How much you believe the gospel is measured by your ability to be joyful in all things.
3. May Christ be preeminent in our objectives.
Seeing the depth of the incarnation as something done for you should make you realize how much bigger God’s story is than your own.
Most of us live as if our life is a movie with us as the central character. We may bring God in, but he’s still auxiliary to me, and I’m the hero. But the best and most popular movies can only have a handful of really central characters. The rest serve to build up that main storyline. I think of the Hunger Games movies: Katniss is the main character, even though she is often difficult to like (At least, I find her difficult). Many other characters in the movies are more noble than she is, but the point of everyone in those movies is to support her, to show her struggle. Some even show up just soon enough to die for her.
That’s how it needs to be in my life. Christ’s story is the one that goes on forever and ever, and I join him, not vice versa. If I am telling my own story, then it dies with me; when the credits roll, it’s over. But if my life and my objectives are wrapped up in his life, then his victory becomes my victory, one to enjoy eternally!
This Christmas, I pray that Christ and his story would be preeminent in your pain, so that you would take your troubles to the one who wipes away every tear.
This Christmas, I pray that Christ and his story would be preeminent in your blessings, so that everything you have and everything you are would be given back to the God who poured himself out for you.