For me, Christmas is about love. Not just the love between family and friends, but the radical, relentless, illogical, scandalous love of a God who dared to come to earth in human form to die for broken, messed up people.
We’re all broken, messed up people. No one is perfect, even the best of the saints. Human depravity is real. We all fall short of the glory of God and are all wildly undeserving of this unconditional, unmerited love and favor – this grace.
Some say that this way of thinking is damaging, hurtful, unnatural, and I agree, it can be… IF it stops there. It can’t stop there. Coming face to face with our brokenness and sinfulness is not an easy revelation to make and if that is all we see, it will lead to a life of hopelessness, self hatred, and confusion.
And yet, I’ve come to realize that often times, that is indeed where I stop. Sure, in head knowledge I believe that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us and that in Christ we are fully forgiven, redeemed, and made new – I “know” these things and can recite them to you like the alphabet. But this year I’ve discovered that my heart knowledge (the knowledge that truly manifests into life-change) stops at, “We are all wildly undeserving of this unconditional, unmerited love and favor” or perhaps more specifically, I am undeserving of it.
I’ve discovered that I have a really, really hard time with accepting unconditional love. And I’m lucky enough to say that I’ve experienced a lot of unconditional love in my life from people. But for some reason, as I look back, I see a pattern of me feeling so undeserving of this unconditional love that I try to make myself feel like I do deserve it. Undoubtedly this is where my impossibly high standard of “perfection” for myself comes in as well as my fear of failure & disappointing people. Unable to accept unconditional love, I try and try and try to earn something that’s already been freely given to me, which in reality is actually just straight up dumb.
And I’ve done the same with God’s love – especially this year. This year has been an extremely difficult year full of hardship and loss and I’ve experienced more doubt, fear, hard-heartedness, and feelings of emptiness and confusion than ever before. There have been times that I don’t recognize myself or have questioned if I ever really knew who I was to begin with. I’ve come frighteningly close to throwing in the towel and giving up on my relationship with God. There have been times that I have felt absolutely disgusted and angry with myself. Why can’t I just figure this out? Why am I failing in my faith? How did I get here? God, there is no way that you are still with me and still for me – why would you be?
But don’t I believe that nothing can separate us from the love of God? Don’t I believe that I’ve been given this wonderful free gift of forgiveness? Don’t I believe that God could love a sinner like me?
Somewhere beneath the noise, I hear the small, still voice that says, “My grace is sufficient for you in all your weaknesses, in all your failures, in all your pain. I love you, my child. Don’t you believe me?”
And even further beneath the noise, I hear myself say, “I do.” I do.
When I’d been telling myself that God could never love me after the way I’ve been, He used Christmas to remind me that He left heaven to pursue me. The God of the universe came to earth as a newborn baby, born for the sole purpose of dying on my behalf. He pursued me to the point of death on a cross. If that’s what He has already done for me, how could I think He couldn’t still love me now?
Even if it feels like I’m just barely hanging on by a thread, I will hang on to His love.
A song I’ve sung a million times but feels so fitting now:
Are you hurting and broken within?
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin?
Jesus is calling.
Have you come to the end of yourself?
Do you thirst for a drink from the well?
Jesus is calling.
O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ
And a video I’ve watched a million times: