“Christmas is giving!”
How often haven’t we heard that statement? And properly understood, it is correct.
However, the majority of people who hear that statement would think of the giving of gifts, the giving of love, the giving of help and kindness. None of that is wrong except that it misses the real point of Christmas, the real reason for our worship, the real reason for this holiday!
So what should Christian pastors preach about on Christmas? No doubt we’d be surprised by the answers if we asked the question of people on the street. We might even be surprised by the answers some church members might give. In fact, we might even be surprised by the answers some pastors might give.
We would probably hear answers that would range from “pastors should preach about love and sharing” to “pastors should preach about working at bringing about peace on earth among nations and people.” We might hear answers such as “pastors should preach on the grace of giving or how we should feed the hungry and house the homeless.”
But this article was not written to find out what I think pastors should preach about on Christmas nor what you or any other person thinks, but what God thinks.
And that is exactly what Christian pastors should preach about on Christmas — about what God says: His Word (and not only on Christmas but everyday)!
During the Christmas season Christian pastors should preach THAT GOD’S GRACE IN CHRIST SAVES.
God’s grace appeared in the person of Jesus Christ. When Christ came–when Jesus was born in Bethlehem–it was like the sun shining. Jesus Himself declared: “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).
God’s grace in Christ was not only that Jesus came into the world in the same flesh and blood we have; rather, God’s grace entailed the whole life of Christ. It involved His perfect life of obedient love to God’s commandments as our substitute and His suffering, death, and resurrection as payment for all of our sins. There in Christ God’s undeserved love for mankind appeared. Jesus earned for us God’s favor.
We therefore see that all of the works and merits of humanity are excluded. By its very definition grace excludes merit. It is free and undeserved, not earned by mankind. We cannot by our own reason or strength earn, win, or deserve our salvation.
That is what Christian pastors should preach — that man by nature is totally corrupt, sinful, spiritually dead, lost, and eternally damned, living in darkness. But God has shined His saving love upon us in the person of His Son born of the woman; in Jesus salvation has appeared to all of mankind, not only to believers, but to all people.
What wonder, what amazement! How often doesn’t it just slip right on by us? In fact, what has just been read may have been missed by some of us: JESUS GAVE HIMSELF FOR ALL OF US! He wanted to leave His throne on high and be born into this sin-filled world. He wanted to become a mortal human being. He wanted to be placed under His Father’s law. He wanted to suffer and die. He willingly came to take our place, to be our substitute sacrifice on the cross. He was not forced to do so, but He gave Himself for us because He loved us.
How many truly believe this as they think of Christmas? How many see in the baby Jesus the great love that came to seek and to save lost mankind?
The ransom price was Christ’s shed blood, which is why even at Christmas we need to “Lift High the Cross”! For the cradle without the cross loses meaning. Christmas without Good Friday and Easter is emptied of saving value. But through the Spirit we see that God’s love in Christ sent Him both to the cradle and to the cross. Through that grace in Christ we are empowered.
That’s also what Christian pastors should preach about during the Christmas season!
We have been redeemed, freed, saved, purified in order to serve and live for God. People that have been set free from the weight of sin and its curse of death cannot but respond and express their joy through thankful living, a living in obedience to God. Jesus says; “You are the light of the world… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
The Apostle Paul writes: “He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and rose again”
God’s grace empowers us to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). The Holy Spirit uses the gospel message not only to create a living faith in our hearts but also to bring about spiritual renewal in all areas of our lives. The law of God can only condemn, never empower–it can only demand, never give. The gospel of Christ’s forgiving love takes hold of the heart and creates a new life of service and love.
This is what Christian pastors should preach about — not only on Christmas Day but everyday! May the joy, the appreciation, the wonder of God’s grace in Christ Jesus, the wonder of His deep, selfless, sacrificial love move us to dedicate ourselves in loving obedience to Him and, empowered by His Spirit, to be living examples of works of love toward each other. Then Christmas will be a real blessing to each of us the whole year through.