Christmas is the story of a good Father going to extravagant lengths in order to adopt those who have been separated from Him.
It is the celebration of God seeing the plight of His people and responding with the greatest gift of love this world has ever known - Himself. Not merely for us or near us in theory, God now put on flesh and became one of us in humanity - entering the darkness and brokenness of our story to bring us a brighter and better one in Him.
God With Us
In what we now know as the Christmas story, scripture consistently speaks of the incarnation, the act of God wrapping Himself in the flesh of an infant child, in beautifully vivid and forever-altering terms. The apostle Paul, in Galatians chapter 4, writes: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
At a predetermined, specific moment throughout all the course of human history (“…when the fullness of time had come"), God looked down on the plight of His people and decided right then, at that very instance, He would step out of His glory and enter into the brokenness of our humanity. He would not strut into this world on a throne but would crawl into it through a manger, being born in humility, in poverty and in relative obscurity so that He might bring fullness to the empty and belonging to the lonely ("…God sent forth his Son").
The significance of His name, Emmanuel, meaning God is with us, could not be overstated. God is not somewhere. God is not over there. God is not out there. God is here, with us, among us, one of us. He is in our story. He has seen us in the plight of our brokenness and met us exactly where we were, placing Himself beneath the rule of judgment over us in order to rescue and redeem us out from under it (“…born under the law…to redeem those under the law”). God is with us. Nothing will ever be the same.
To Make Us His Own
The intended outcome of Christmas was clear – for God to bring into His family those who had been tragically orphaned from Him (…that we might receive adoption). No longer isolated. No longer orphaned. Now adopted as dearly loved sons and daughters.
At Christmas we remember the lengths God has gone to call us His own. He has not loved us from a distance, but has thrust Himself fully into the brokenness of our story to bring us securely into His forever family. He interceded on our behalf, at just the right time, to make us His own. In the gospel God says, “I see you where you are and I’m coming after you!” This is Christmas - the crescendo of that emphatic declaration.
Adoption: An Echo of the Christmas Story
The gospel of our adoption, making its vivid debut that night in Bethlehem, acts not only as the emphasis behind why but also the model of how we as those adopted into the forever family of God are called to forever give our families to those who need them. Christmas is ultimately the story of God stepping into our darkness in order to bring light into it. It, above any and all other motivations, compels us to do the same on behalf of the vulnerable, marginalized and orphaned in this world. It is impossible for us to truly celebrate Christmas without considering both its implications for us and its expectations on us – to do for them exactly what God has done for us through Jesus.
In light of the gospel and the story of Christmas we can no longer remain on the peripherals of the plight of others, but must, at just the right time, meet them where they are by interceding on their behalf. Their brokenness no longer just theirs, but also now ours. An old story forever being rewritten by a new one. A better one. A brighter one. Together.
Adoption begins with our willingness to step foot into darkness, not merely to pull a child out of it but to bring light into it. This is exactly what Jesus did for us and what we are therefore compelled to do for them. We do not strut into their stories with a cape on our back but crawl into them with the Cross on our shoulders. We are not the rescuers, but the rescued. We are not the heroes, but on every occasion seek to point to Him who is. Our Hero has come. Immanuel. God is with us. Nothing will ever be the same.
In the end, the echoes of Christmas in adoption beautifully reverberate in forever-altering terms. A taking on of one story and a writing of a new one. A better one. Together.
Nothing will ever be the same.
This. Is. Christmas.
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