Life in the Marketplace of Ideas
Four Reasons Why Christmas Matters
We should not deny the un-reason of the season. We should not deny that the incarnation is paradoxical and the story seems impossible, even offensive to ordinary human reason. We should celebrate it, for our faith hinges upon it. If ours were not a God of the impossible and the unexpected, a God who overturns the order of the world, then we would still be dead in our sin. And if God did not choose the insignificant, the weak, the foolish, the suffering, and the oppressed, then what hope would we have?
4) Finally, God showed us in Christmas what it means to love.
Christmas gifts are shared in memory of the magi and the gifts they brought from afar. Yet the ultimate Gift-Giver in the Christmas story is God. God shows us, in Christmas, what it means to give. God did not give sparingly and selectively -- he gave lavishly to all. God did not require that we first demonstrate our worthiness or earn his affection -- he found us while we were yet sinful and brought us grace and forgiveness. God did not give objects and artifacts; he gave himself, restored us to a right relationship with him, and bade us be reconciled with one another. God did not give from a distance; he entered into the trenches with us, into the deepest pits of our fears and struggles and sufferings, in order to be with us, to strengthen us, to redeem us.
God showed us what it means to sacrifice ourselves in love for one another. "If you love me," Jesus told Peter, "feed my sheep." The compassion of God is set upon all of his creatures. When we give ourselves, sacrifice ourselves, when we enter into the trenches with one another, when we restore broken relationships and deepen the bonds of friendship and family, when we give even to those who have wronged us or failed us or disappointed us, then we are honoring what God showed us in Christmas. We are honoring Christ, born in Bethlehem, murdered on the cross of Golgotha, who rose into the heights, and yet who dwells even now in the least of these.
These are the reasons we honor the birth of Christ. They are reasons worth remembering.
Dr. Timothy Dalrymple is the Associate Director of Content at Patheos, and writes weekly on faith, politics, and culture for Patheos' Evangelical Portal. Follow him at his blog, Philosophical Fragments, on Facebook or on Twitter.