It’s Christmas season, which holds significance both to Christians and the rest of the world. This season is equated to one of reconciliation, unity, cheer, merriment and joy, which are warm, fuzzy sentiments enjoyed by both the religious and non-religious. How I love this season! As a practising Christian, it holds a fond place in my heart that transcends the family reunions, beautiful gift wrappings, decked-out malls and the resurgence of Vlogmas. It is a day we set apart to remember the birth of our subject of worship, the one we call our Lord and Saviour – Jesus Christ.
In lieu of this wonderful season, I would love to explore a few facets of the Christian faith that shape the significance of Christmas day, leading Christians all over the world to rejoice over the ‘Good News’ that is central to our faith. The Good News, also known as the Gospel, is a radical message that is the crux of Christianity. It is the message that the Creator of the Universe – God Himself – came in the form of a man – Jesus Christ – in order to forgive and redeem this fallen world and its fallen people. Whoever believes in and accepts the lordship of Jesus Christ will receive the forgiveness of God and have a reunited relationship with God, in life everlasting when this stint on earth ends. Sounds like good news, right? I would like to tease out why:
1. The faithfulness of God
The promise of a Saviour to the world wasn’t an impromptu plan initiated by God when things went from bad to worse. Rather, the whole narrative of the Bible teaches us of a faithful God’s covenant to undeserving people, and the plans of God to forgive and redeem His creation were revealed as early as the start of the fall of Man (i.e. Genesis 3).
A close inspection into the Bible will reveal that the arrival of Jesus Christ is evidence of God’s faithfulness in His promises, despite the overt rebellion, rejection and idolatry from His people. The arrival of Jesus Christ is not God’s plan initiated in a hurried, dysfunctional manner. Rather, it is an act of gracious mercy, meticulously revealed by God since the times of old, revealed by His prophets and those who would prepare the way for Jesus. This highlights that the God we serve is one we can trust, and one who delivers what we need the most – the forgiveness of sins, a great pardon, a Saviour and Lord deserving of our submission.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
2. The weightiness of the matter
The Gospel is also Good News because we are not talking about matters that are trivial in nature. If the Gospel only answers questions that are insignificant, well, the news it carries can’t be that good now, can it? Because the news doesn’t and can’t impact us in any substantial manner. We can shrug this news off and continue about our lives unimpeded. However, I believe that the Gospel holds the answers to the issues we are most affected by, amongst others: morality, meaning, destiny and origin.
The Good News tells us that God in His love and grace cares for us enough to send His only Son as the Saviour of the world. There is no evidence of greater love, and this act of love from God should cause us to pause and ask: why? In short, it is because He embodies love. He is the epitome of love. It is not because we are lovable, for if we were, why would we need saving? It is precisely because He is love. Understanding the depth and amount of this love would take a life-time, but it is a life journey worth taking. Apart from this Good News, I would find it difficult to draw a substantial, objective and rational reason to live and function.
‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. ‘ – John 3:16
3. The truth behind the personhood of Jesus Christ
Lastly, the Good News is true with regards to the personhood of Jesus Christ. Through careful and honest examination of history, it is evident that a man named Jesus walked this Earth some two thousand years ago, and without lifting a pen nor a sword, crafted one of the major religions of the modern world. There are many resources that will grant the reader a historical picture of the living, breathing person of Jesus. Whether one believes in the deity of Jesus Christ, I would encourage the reader to consider Jesus Christ as someone worth exploring, even if just historically, especially his deeds, words and claims. He is recorded as someone who is able to perform wondrous miracles and defy social hierarchies. He claims to fufil old-time prophecies and is sincerely believed to have risen from the dead. As teased out in no.2, the reality of his existence as the founder of Christianity may be crucial in answering the Big Questions of your life. As Christians, we worship Him as our Lord and God.
‘For I [Paul] delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.’ 1 Cor 15:3-8
I hope a glimpse into these three facets of the Christian faith show at least a snippet of why the Gospel is the Good News. The clearest evidence of God’s goodness and faithfulness is in the arrival of His Son Jesus Christ. The reality of this news really does have the capacity to bring great joy and meaning to the tough, meaty questions of our lives. Although the celebration of Christmas has taken on a very secular slant in the Western world, the religious significance behind it is why I hold Christmas in reverence and humility. The reason behind the season is and will always be about Jesus the Christ.
Merry Christmas everyone! May it be filled with the knowledge of Him who came to save us.