Links Daily Devotional

Links Players Atlanta area representative Josh Nelson considers the earthy beginnings of the earthly visit of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Who Put the Mess in Christmas?

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:23, ESV)

I’ve heard that Ben Hogan used to have a reoccurring nightmare about missing a five-foot putt on the eighteenth hole to fall short of his constant attempt to shoot the perfect round of 18 under par. I have never made it past the fourth hole in my attempt at perfection on the golf course, so I can’t quite relate. I’m guessing that the ideal round of golf in your mind is probably not quite as perfect as Mr. Hogan’s either.

You laugh, but if I asked you about your ideals for Christmas, they probably look a lot like the coffee commercials we see every year where mom, dad, and the dog are all surprised by their college student coming home to complete the perfect white Christmas and, of course, share a nice, hot cup of coffee together. Besides that, I’m still trying to figure out which college is represented by his sweatshirt that just says “STATE,” how he managed to get home with such a perfectly wrapped present, and why he doesn’t have a huge trash bag full of laundry with him like I did every time I came home. Oh, and how in the age of cell phones did his mom and dad not know he was coming?

This unrealistic presentation of marketers during the holiday season has convinced us all of the idea that our Christmases and lives should be perfect, which has been the case since long before television advertising campaigns. Take a look at a nearby Nativity scene. You’ll find the cleanest stable ever with cows, donkeys, and sheep lying perfectly in their place, a baby that smiles all the time, and Mary miraculously back to her pre-pregnancy weight overnight! Unrealistically perfect.

If we’re completely honest with ourselves, our lives look less like the Maxwell House commercials and more like the Griswolds in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I think the scene of Christ’s birth was probably a little messier than our Christian art and Nativity scenes reveal. I’m sure the barn was dirty and stinky, the animals were probably a nuisance, and Joseph and Mary probably did not feel up to worshiping their newborn around the clock. Got a more realistic picture now?

So, why do you think that was the scene God into which chose to send his Son, the Savior of the world? He’s the creator of the universe; he could have chosen any environment for his Son to enter the world. Jesus could have been born in a palace amongst wealth, ease, and comfort, but God had something else in mind. God had a plan and it was in the prophesied title of our Messiah. He was to be called “God with us.” Not God just for the rich. Not God only for the religious. Not God for the perfect.  But rather “Emmanuel, God with us.” Yes, God with us!

He knows your life isn’t perfect; in fact, it may be a mess. You may be dealing with a divorce or estranged relationship with family, an illness or recent death of a loved one, a financial crisis, or Cousin Eddie may just be coming to stay with you for a few days. Whatever it is this Christmas that is short of perfect, I want to encourage you to invite Christ into the situation to be exactly what he has always been—the God present and perfect amongst our mess. After all… his name is “God with us!”

Merry Christmess!

Josh Nelson
December 17, 2013
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