A common reply to questions of faith in our culture today is, “It’s personal.” This response can be a way to bow out of a conversation that is uncomfortable, to sidestep an argument that the other is seemingly attempting to stir up, or excuse ourselves from a topic we simply are not prepared to discuss, let alone provide sufficient proof to support our side of any potential debate.
Yet, when it comes to the biblical accounts of the birth of Jesus Christ have you ever personalized them? This is to read “us” or “we” as “you” or “me.” For instance, For to ME a child is born, to ME a son is given (Isaiah 9:6a). This is to live with the awkward grammar and bask in God’s incredible love for you! Ponder this ... God came into this world for YOU ... that a light of faith might be switched on in you, filling you with God’s love, joy, hope and peace!
From the very beginning of the biblical narrative concerning humanity the God of the universe, the Creator of the ends of the Earth, was personal with human creation. God walked among His creation and spent time with them as referenced in Genesis 3:9. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” Just another indication of God wanting to be with us. For God, it’s personal!
Christmas is God taking the initiative to restore His original intent — to be in a relationship with you and me. As we read in Matthew 1:23. “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).” God with YOU! Charles A. Miles captured this personalization in the chorus of his 1913 hymn, “In the Garden,” writing of God:
“And He walks with me,
and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own.”
Christmas isn’t just for the world, it’s for you! Now, I am not promoting selfishness or self-centeredness, but sometimes we miss the personal side of Christmas when we only hear, “Jesus came for us” or “God walked across eternity and became human, coming in the form of a child for our world.” Each is true, yet if that’s all you hear you risk missing the beauty of God’s Christmas gift.
God so loved YOU that He sent His only Son so that through your trust in Him you would not be separated from God, but in relationship with God for eternity.
Just as we sing next week, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me” (Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller, 1955), that is where Christmas begins — with you and me. Note, it does not stay there, it is birthed there so we can grow in, and share, the love, peace, hope and joy of Christmas with others through our work, studies and relationships.
But it starts with you. Remember —it’s personal!