Christmas is a wonderful time of year if you have a perfect life. Or at least that’s the message I get from our culture. If you’re good looking, are in a wonderful relationship, have plenty of money for gifts, a beautiful family and a couple of Clydesdales kicking around your snow covered back yard, this is the season for you. If you’re one of the seven people in the world who actually like fruitcake, even better.
The problem is I don’t have that kind of life. Yes, I’m married to a wonderful woman and we have a ridiculously cute son but life isn’t always easy. The cute kid also pukes a lot and seems to enjoy screaming, often in the middle of the night. Sometimes our house is a mess. Sometimes I just wish we could make it to the end of a day without being exhausted. And, for the record, I hate fruitcake.
Add to that all of the fears, hurts and frustrations in my heart. Planting a church is scary work – what if we fail? How will I explain it to people if we follow God into this and it doesn’t work? It’s been a hard year for our family. We said goodbye to a church we had been at for 10 years. We said goodbye to friends in DC. We set out into something new. There were people who loved us well but also people who hurt us. Many times I wonder why the high road can’t be the easy road. I think about friends who have lost parents this year and friends who are uncertain about their future and friends who just want their kids to be healthy. Not exactly the stuff of a perfect Christmas.
So we do our best to ignore it all. We turn a blind eye and hope like crazy next Christmas will be better and we won’t have to fake it so much.
And we miss the whole point of Christmas.
Jesus wasn’t born because we had it all together. He didn’t come on a perfect night, to a perfect family in a perfect place. He was born to two poor, unmarried and terrified teenagers. He made His royal entry into our world in a smelly, dirty cave. Yes, angels sang. But only shepherds came that night.
He didn’t come as the cherry on top of a perfect world. He left perfection behind to taste our pain, to experience our temptations, to identify with our weaknesses and to show His Father’s love for us. He never asked people to clean themselves up before they came to Him. He was called a friend of sinners.
The more tired, broken and hopeless you are, the more Christmas is for you.
The infant King offers hope, a fresh start and a life that never ends. It’s not the life we deserve. It’s the life He purchased for us on the cross. His cross makes our forgiveness possible. His death secures our life. And His life offers hope to us all.
So, Merry Christmas.
You may not have a perfect life but you do have a perfect Christ.