I don’t know what your favourite part of the Christmas story is.
My six year old was talking about the ‘magic’ of the star the other day; but yours could well be something else.
Is it Mary taking on the greatest responsibility imaginable?
Is it Joseph faithfully sticking with her?
Is it the angel speaking so clearly and speaking God’s plan to the people?
It could be that Mary and Joseph were refugees, and yet used by God in a fabulous way.
Or maybe it’s that Jesus was born into poverty, showing the humility of our God in heaven.
Is it the shepherds or wise men travelling to see Jesus?
There are so many facets to the story that are compelling – each one telling a little story of their own, speaking to how we might respond to God. That is wonderful. It makes it a story we should never get bored of hearing every year.
My question though, is this … why does it matter?
The answer … none of it.
None of it matters if it isn’t true; and that’s the thing. It’s meaningless.
It’s easy to go through Christmas and not really think about whether the story is true, and whether it really matters. Through no fault of our own, we just hear the story, and then get on with Christmas.
But then the danger is that we take the attitude that it’s merely a story, an ancient prose, or a mere suggestion of how God made his way into the world.
The thing is, if it is true, it’s the most important event in the history of the world, as it sets things on a path towards the world being redeemed and restored for the goodness and glory of God.
And if it isn’t true, none of it actually matters. I say that about the story, and I say that about our faith.
If it isn’t true, we’re following the path of a remarkable human being, who left an indelible mark on human history, who has more written about him and more songs sung about him than anyone ever has. But he’d also be a liar and a charlatan. They would be the facts.
If it is true, then the impact on the world and what it means for our lives is immeasurable.
CS Lewis said (and I’m paraphrasing) that Jesus is either completely irrelevant, or the most important person who has ever lived. There’s no middle ground. He’s not just a nice guy. He’s not just a visionary. He’s not just a champion of the poor. He’s not just a challenger to power structures. He’s not just a revolutionary.
If it’s true, He’s literally the creator, the sustainer of life, and the redeemer of mankind. If it’s true, He is literally the reason we exist, have feelings, have thoughts, have likes, dislikes, loves, hates, talents, things we’re bad at, quirks, faults and everything else. If it’s true…
If it’s true, you’re not a mistake – you’re loved, valued and have an eternal identity in Him. If it’s true, you are made new in his name. If it’s true, you have an innate purpose, an ability to do things that God has appointed you to do and nobody else. If it’s true.
If it’s not true, it’s just a nice story.
The wonderful thing about Jesus that gets forgotten is that he gives us a choice. I think some call it ‘free will’. Choose life with Him, or choose the idea that life is all one massive stroke of luck. Which is it to be?
Maybe that’s what we might consider this Christmas.
Because if Jesus is the truth, then it changes everything.
Theme photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash