Even when we believe in God, we do not take the spiritual realm very seriously.
Christmas is not so much a story about Jesus as about God. He gave his greatest gift, himself. He freely chose to involve himself in the human condition without reserve.
The theme is divine impoverishment for the sake of human enrichment. He who was rich for our sakes became poor that we through his poverty might be rich (2 Cor. 8:9). The One who is rich beyond imagining, superior in power, and perfect in wisdom and holiness became a helpless baby, poor and defenseless, to win the friendship of sinners. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15).
The greatest objection to the truth of the Christian message is a simple one: it is too good to be true. Celsus voiced this objection early in the history of the church. Being infinite, God could not do that, and being perfect, God would not do it. He might love mankind, but not that much. He might go to some lengths to help us, but not that far. In Judaism and Islam, God is merciful—but there are limits to what he is able and willing to do to put his love into effect. Christmas means that God loves us without limits. It means he has not given us over to our fallenness, but that he entered our situation in Christ and gave full expression to his gracious Word in that singular human life. Belief in the incarnation of the Son of God has always been the hallmark of Christian faith and a pearl of greatest price.
But why does it sound like a myth to Western ears? Why does it seem like an imaginary tale out of a book of fables? One reason has to do with Western ears themselves. We have been immersed in a scientific mentality that limits reality to the realm of material cause and effect. We are ...1
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