Friday, December 24, 2010
He Throws It Around Like a Drunken Sailor
We would expect God to be circumspect with this grace -- to make sure that it flowed only to the right kind of people and then only in dribs and drabs. But God is not like this. He dishes it out as if it were common -- even though it is the most special of all commodities and the richest of all the treasures the earth has known. He shows this grace by keeping His promise to people wayward in their piety, wearing only the filthiest rags of righteousness, stinking the awful odor of death, and whose hearts and minds have been so closed off to the reality of their plight they do not see or smell or realize who they are or what they have become. They look into the mirror and see in clouded vision a decent chap staring back at them -- not perfect but not so bad either.
It is completely unreasonable of this God to be gracious when He has every right to stick to justice and let justice condemn the whole lot of us with one fell swoop of judgment. But that is not how this God operates. His justice is cut with mercy as He has determined to become His people's Savior from before the first terrible indiscretion and sin led them down the garden path to doubt, disease, despair, and death.
He darkens the door of our neighborhoods by being born in the alley, in a stable, among the animals within the dirt of their domicile and in the stinking dung of their latrine. A little hay becomes the bed that should have belonged to a King. A few shepherds should have been the whole world in kneeling adoration. Angels sang in sweetness what a world should have proclaimed with gusto. A Virgin Mother from nowhere's ville and a betrothed husband whose maiden was first the Mother of God before she was his wife -- where did He get this cast of characters?
Ah, but He came to us who were made by Him and we knew Him not. The lavish and excessive grace of His birth made us fearful more than it bade us come -- what kind of God would be so foolish with His precious grace and what kind of God would stoop so low for a clearly undeserving people?
In the end the thing that makes Christmas so great is the same thing that makes it so darn hard to take seriously -- it is grace beyond all measure, liberally applied, poured out in richest flowing stream... That is what we meet in the Manger, what we see in the cross, what we find in the tomb missing its Lord... God grant us the Holy Spirit that this relentless and reckless grace may find in us faith to receive it, hearts to rejoice over it, gratitude to give thanks for it, and courage to share it with others with the same seemingly reckless abandon that God has given it to us...
A Blessed Nativity to all my readers.... Pastor Peters +