Every Christmas season, I hear these words over and over in songs and sermons: “Emmanuel, God with us.” Sometimes I think of “God with us” selfishly, placing myself in the center of the universe, expecting God to show up when and where I need him, based on what I hope is real about God’s role in my life. But as I sit with this truth this season, I am comforted that “Emmanuel, God with us” is much larger than the box I’ve placed it in.
“Emmanuel, God with us” means God sent his only son, Jesus, from heaven to earth. Jesus left perfection to live amongst the sin of his people and the brokenness of creation. Jesus left perfect unity with the Father to dwell with people who would betray, denounce, mock, and eventually crucify him. “God with us” was only made possible because of Jesus’ willingness to leave. Sit with that. This is the greatest gift that’s ever been given, past, present, and future. Jesus left unity with God the Father to ransom his people from their sins and to make a way for all of us to be forever united with God.
What if we began to think of “God with us” differently? What if we began to think of it in terms of the gift of Christ’s sacrifice so that all people might have new life in him? He selflessly gave his best while we were at our very worst. God with us is humbling because we do not deserve this gift. There is nothing we can or will ever be able to do to earn the love that has been so generously offered. Yet we still get so caught up in our own lives and our own self-centered ideas of what God’s provision means.
This Christmas season, may we take time to sit in the truth that Jesus willingly came for each and every one of us. He loves us and yearns for relationship with us. Maybe the reality of “God with us” can change the way we view this holiday season as we see the birth of Jesus through the lens of his death which made the way for us to have life in him forever.
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