“It’s a broken Christmas.”
That’s what went through my head last week as I stood in front of my kitchen sink mulling over the events of the last 7 days. First the heat had stopped working, and we got a whole new HVAC unit on the advice of the repairman. Four days after that installation, my husband’s car broke down and made it clear that it’s time to put it out to pasture. Neither were real shocks – we knew they were coming. And we had money saved for when they broke. But, despite all those car commercials at Christmas featuring huge red bows, neither were what I wanted to buy for Christmas.
Just a moment after I had that thought, though, I smiled. Because it occurred to me that “It’s a broken Christmas” might just not be a bad Christmas saying. In fact, it may be good theology. Because Christmas is about God coming to a broken world to redeem and heal broken people.
We are broken people
Ever since Adam took a bite of the fruit Eve handed to him from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we have all been born broken, with a sin nature that we are helpless to fight. This brokenness is described in Scripture as:
- Going astray and turning our own way (Isaiah 53:6)
- Being distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36)
- None who seeks for God or who does good (Romans 3:11-12)
- Being children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3)
- Having no hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12)
- Alienated and hostile in mind (Colossians 1:21)
- Being God’s enemy (Romans 5:10)
Most of the world tries to make it not sound this bad by saying that people are basically good and the ones who aren’t are because of something in their environment when they were growing up. But all of us know deep down in our hearts that we are broken. We know the ugliness that is there, even if we can hide it at times. The selfishness, unkindness, judgmental thoughts, pride, anger, impatience – I could go on and on.
But Jesus came on Christmas to save us from that brokenness – from both the penalty and power of sin. His perfect life ended in His spotless sacrifice to pay for our sin. All of it. For all time. And when we trust in that sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin, we are healed. We are now described as:
- Holy, blameless, and beyond reproach (Colossians 1:22)
- A new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
- A child of God (John 1:12)
- Heirs of eternal life (Titus 3:7)
- A citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20)
- Free in Christ (Galatians 5:1)
- Holy and beloved (Colossians 3:12)
We live in a broken world
Adam’s sin didn’t just affect humans. It affected EVERTHING. Part of the curse in Genesis 3 was that the ground was cursed. It now would grow thorns and thistles and Adam’s work would now be difficult. In the beginning, God made a perfect world and created man for that perfect world. And we still long for it deep inside. We were made for Paradise and yet we live in this world for now. One that is flawed and that wears out and ages and that is broken. Jesus acknowledges this when He promises us in John 16:33 that we will have tribulation in this world. I like the way Larry Crabb said it in Inside Out: “We must remember that our Lord’s promise of Paradise today was given to a man about to die.” (pg. 75)
But Christmas means that while we yearn inside for Paradise, we have the confident hope that one day we will be there if we have placed our faith in Christ to be our Savior and Lord. Even more than that, we also know that one day this broken world will be gone, replaced with perfection. Jesus came the first time at Christmas, but He is coming back again! This time it won’t be as a baby in a manger but as a warrior on a white horse with the armies of heaven following Him. Every time I read Revelation 19:11-16 I get excited! Come Lord Jesus!
He will completely conquer sin and death and Satan. And this old broken world will pass away and there will be a new heaven and a new earth where there are no more tears and no more death and no more mourning or crying or pain. (Revelation 21:1-4) The Christmas story isn’t just of Jesus coming once, but it’s the promise that He will come back again and restore all things.
So it’s a broken Christmas at my house. My guess is that all of us have a broken Christmas in some way whether it’s in our stuff or in our relationships or in our bodies. But let’s use the brokenness to drive us to gratitude for a Savior who came to this broken world to mend our brokenness and who gives us the promise of not always living in a broken world. When you think of what He left (continuous worship in Heaven) for what He came to (insults, mocking, and ultimately death), it’s astounding that He came at all. But “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Thank you, Jesus!