SAVED BY A CHILD
On a personal level it is not easy. As we still are flesh and blood we daily are contending against ourselves as it were. The war between the old man and the new man is a wearying experience. We are still in the world. In the world we have had and shall continue to have temptation, sorrow, and tribulation. And then, as Martin Luther said, we have the devil about us “who with his lying and murdering, day and night” will let us have no peace within or without. The same struggle, sorrow, and lying and murdering devil afflicts us also in the church.
On two fronts, then, the Christian suffers the scars of battle–in his personal life and in his life as a member of the assembly of believers. Contending is tiring. Fighting off the attacks of our own flesh and those who would attack us is wearisome. It saps the strength. Hanging on–holding fast, as Scripture puts it–so as not to lose one’s grip on the crown of life taxes us. Then there is the burden of our sin and built. One gets tired just thinking about it.
All this suggests that life is not fair. But who is going to be the judge of what is fair? Where in the Bible are we told that life should be fair? But then who made the bed in which we must sleep, or better, who is responsible for the weariness of life? Look in the mirror.
How abruptly life changed in the garden of Eden. In the twinkling of an eye, from a bed of ease to a bed of thorns. By whose fault? Our first parents’. But then rest, rest through a promise of the Savior. There was no time of ease during the time of the prophets. But in the judgment there was mercy–rest for the remnant.
In the midst of Roman oppression came the fullness of time. God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that the oppressed might receive the adoption of sons (Gal. 4:4).
Christmas. The birth of our Lord inspired songs of peace and joy from the angel host to a group of shepherds engaged in their daily task. In the timelessness of divine promise, fulfillment and grace, the Christmas message brings to you and me, to a weary church, the message that we too are the children of God, beloved of the Lord. We too were under the law, but are now redeemed from the law, its curse and condemnation.
A Breath Of Hope!
It is the message of forgiveness. As to shepherds so to us–peace, rest, a breath of hope! We are carried upon the shoulders and enfolded in the arms of the Christ-child. How humbled we are when we recognize that we are saved by a Child whose arms enfold us so tenderly but whose hands at the same time are so strong that no one shall pluck us out of those hands.
Christmas for us is a birthday celebration, a celebration of peace and restoration of hope. Christmas is the Heavenly Father’s declaration to us: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
We can endure! Not by might of ours, but by the power of Him who has overcome the devil, and by the grace of Him who permits us to listen in on His intimate prayer to His Father: “I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one” (Jn. 17:15). What we brought and bring upon ourselves, the Son of God has taken on Himself, and continues to take on Himself as we come to Him in penitence and faith.
It isn’t fair, but fairness was not the issue. God the Father looked down on a fallen world and had mercy. That is Christmas.
Then Christian true, Take courage new, And let no earthborn woe or sorrow move thee! Since reconciled Through God’s dear Child, Most tenderly His Father-heart doth love thee. (Hoppe)
Through all the tides and billows of life, and through all the struggles and contendings that are the lot of God’s faithful people in this hostile environment, may we know the peace that passes all understanding and the rest that is without end.
This is the Christmas gift to all who are not ashamed to be held by a Child and gladly confess that by the same Child they are saved.
— Pastor Daniel Fleischer