As we journey through this Christmas season I keep hearing Christians, after hearing a song or story about the truth of Christmas say things like, “What a great reminder of what Christmas is all about” or “Awesome reminder that Jesus is the reason for the season”. Innocent expressions for sure! And we could easily pawn them off as “figures of speech” since we obviously know Christmas is all about Jesus. Perhaps we say such things because we are momentarily “jarred” from the busyness of the season and it feels good to pause and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. But no matter how much I pray, ponder, and write in an attempt to “overlook” these things we say, I keep getting this troubling question from Holy Spirit “Why do My people need ‘reminders’ of Me at Christmas!” If He keeps asking the question, there must be truth in our statements beyond just figures of speech. In order to answer His question, we must first admit it is a valid one. I have been embracing His question and one of the answers He gives me is “We need reminders because we do not embrace our Christmas covenant!”
First let’s set the stage again from Luke: “I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day…” There are two foundational truths here which prepare us to embrace our Christmas covenant. The first one is that this good news of great joy to all people IS the only reason we celebrate Christmas. When I got pregnant with our children, I wanted everyone to know this good news because I was filled with great joy. From the time I discovered I was pregnant to the time I delivered I brought this good news to everyone I met. (I didn’t want them to think I was just gaining weight you know!) But seriously, we were overjoyed with the new life God was creating and we wanted people to celebrate with us. After the birth of our children we made phone calls, sent e-mails, sent out announcements, put it in the newspaper, and announced it at church so that we could bring the good tidings of our great joy to all people. We wanted the world to know we had a baby!!!!! This is the reality we celebrate every Christmas as we announce the birth of Jesus to the world! An angel brought the first message and we are responsible to continue bringing the message to all people!
The second truth is that Jesus is born to us! To you and to me!!!! We definitely should not need reminders in order to remember Jesus is born TO US! Think about this: If a child is born TO US we never forget or need a reminder they were born! I remember every one of my children’s births, in detail, and will not hesitate to share those details with anyone who will listen! And, I never need a reminder to celebrate their life! Hopefully you sense the ownership in this relationship with Jesus! It is through this personalization we can truly embrace the covenantal aspect of our relationship with God!
With the stage set we can now focus on this Christmas covenant because He was born to us this day! Christmas is the opportunity to celebrate the coming of this covenant in the flesh, in the form of a baby King. The love of God manifested in the birth of Jesus Christ is more incredible than we can ever fathom! As a result of His birth, Christians have a relationship with Jesus Christ that is so deep, so intimate, and so personal that even if we spend our entire life trying to understand its significance we will still fall short, but it comes from a covenant relationship. We could not possibly cover the depths of revelation to be discovered in “covenant” in this blog, but a simple understanding enables us to grasp the intensity of it. Armed with the knowledge God desires to be in covenant relationship with us, we will then covet and treasure the commitment involved, treating it with the respect and honor it deserves.
Basically, covenants between God and man are divine promises of agreement by both parties sealed with a sign or pledge. God is faithful to make covenant with His people and in order to live and receive the benefits of those covenants we must “agree” with Him. Living in the reality that God never breaks His covenant with us compels us to keep covenant with Him. By acknowledging covenant with God is a divine promise not to be broken, we place the highest value to this relationship because He has placed the highest value on us.
The Lord shared with me three beautiful aspects of covenant helping us to understand and embrace it; mystery, sacrifice and passion!
Covenant is mysterious because we can try but never fully comprehend the “tie which binds” because of its overwhelming sense of love and commitment. It is mysterious because it originates and is sustained in the spirit realm. Our Savior coming as a baby, born in a manger is a mystery! It is mysterious to know this baby was the long awaited for King? And the mystery surrounding His being born to us is unfathomable! Yet deep within, there is a “knowing” and an “understanding” that creates a longing to see the mystery revealed, and this happens as we press in to knowing Him!
Covenant is sacrificial because in this mysterious love bond there is a “knowing” that we would lay down our lives for Jesus as He did for us. We desire to sacrificially honor, respect, and love Him with everything we possess. We cannot explain our desire to defend our faith in the One who gives us reason to live, but yet, through covenant we protect our love for Him to the point of sacrifice! He gave it all, actually leaving heaven to come to us as a baby – what a great sacrifice! Then He lived and grew in wisdom and stature, was ridiculed, mocked, beaten, betrayed, suffered, died, and was buried – what great sacrifices! But such is the result of covenant!
Covenant is passionate because it is intensifies all our emotions towards God! When we experience the fullness of covenant, the mysterious, sacrificial love cannot be contained but rather it explodes from the depth of our being! Passion infers intense emotion, therefore in covenant relationship our passion intensifies the love and commitment we have for Jesus! Doesn’t it make you want to shout to God this Christmas season? “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace goodwill to men!”
In covenant relationship with God, we experience the mystery, perceive the sacrifice Father and Son made on our behalf, and live the passion of Christ in covenant with God!
Remember the definition of covenant includes an outward “sign” which seals the promise, pledge, or agreement. Look again at these verses to see the sign that came to us which “sealed” the promise God made and sent to us! Luke 2:11-12 “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Jesus is the divine sign of covenant we share with God! In this Christmas covenant we received a Savior – the One we love, trust, follow, and believe!
Every day of this Christmas season I get up and just can’t stop thinking about the baby born to me, my Savior, Jesus! I can’t stop thinking about the traditions that have led me to the manger so that I “remember”. I can’t stop thinking about the good news and great joy we live in because of Jesus! I can’t stop thinking about this incredible covenant God we have!
And today? I think I might need some reminders to get the cookies baked, the shopping done, the gifts wrapped, and the food bought! And if it doesn’t get done, no biggie! But if I stop thinking, talking about, and celebrating the real reason for the season, that would be a biggie!!!!
I pray as you prepare for Christmas, you are not just “reminded” of the Christ Child from time to time, but that you experience His Christmas covenant in surprising ways, that you bask in His love, and that you experience “suddenlies” with God just like the shepherds did on the day Jesus was born! Luke 2:13-14 “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”