CHRISTmas – current or past tense?

25 12 2011

Christmas is more than just a cultural celebration  and so much more than just what the majority of Christians believe, that Christmas is just a historical event of the birth of a baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Christmas when celebrated as just a historical event is just a reminder of Christ’s birthday.

The celebration of Christmas with its cumulative customs and traditions has become ‘’big business” and people all over the world celebrate a historical event! Christmas is not just a birthday celebration. It is the continuing divine action of incarnation. Incarnation is God becoming man – the Son of God becoming flesh.

Despite the fact that traditional Christmas emphasizes Jesus birth at Christmas, the historical event does not save us or give us life. If Jesus’ birth is only treated as a historical event, Jesus becomes a historical figure in our minds and consequently is removed from the present tense! This causes lethargic believers separate from the living Christ.

If Christmas is not to fade away like so many other traditions mankind has, we must celebrate and preach a living abiding Christ. The One who was born in a manger must continue to live and to be birthed in others today.

The birth of Jesus was a “type” of spiritual birth for all men. A “type” is a pictorial representation within a physical or historical act of a coming spiritual reality. The historical “type” of Jesus’ birth can be observed in His conception by the Holy Spirit being a precursor of the spiritual birth whereby Christians are “born, not of perishable seed, but imperishable…” (I Pet. 1:23). The physical birth of Jesus was a “type” of the spiritual birth wherein Christians are “born from above” (John 3:7), “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8), “born of God” (John 1:13; I Jn. 3:9; 4:7; 5:1,4).

Jesus’ birth as a “type” is fulfilled when God’s divine life is received into and “brought into being” again in an individual person. Such spiritual regeneration is figuratively portrayed in the New Testament by the metaphorical analogy of spiritual birth. Jesus explained to Nicodemus, the Jewish teacher, that “unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Continuing, He explained that such a birth necessitates being “born of water (physically) and of the Spirit (spiritually), and “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5,6).

The connection of Jesus’ historical birth and the spiritual new birth of Christians has long been noted in Christian poetry. Poet, Angelus Silesius, (1624-1677), wrote:

“Though Christ a thousand times,
In Bethlehem be born,
If He’s not born in you,
Your soul is still forlorn.”

It is important to note though that the “new birth” is not an exact equivalent to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Rather, our being spiritually “born of God” is analogous to the physical birth of Jesus delivered from the womb of Mary, whereas in Jesus “the Word became flesh” as the God-man as the Messiah and Saviour. Christians do not become God-men in the same sense, nor do we become Saviour. The Christian never becomes or replaces Christ.

Christians do become indwelt by the life of God (I Jn. 4:15). We become “sons of God” (Gal. 3:26) and “children of God” (John 1:12; Rom. 8:16) in personal relationship with God as Father (Rom. 8:15). We become “partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4) as the “Spirit of God dwells in us” (Rom. 8:16). We assume a new spiritual identity as “Christians” (Acts 11:26; 26:28), Christ-ones, being “partakers of Christ” (Heb. 3:14) in spiritual union with Christ (I Cor. 6:17), participating in the mystery of “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:26,27).

Jesus is not just a past pioneer and pattern, an exemplary model of how life should be lived. Nor is He merely the promise of life in the future for the Christian.

Jesus did not come just to be admired as a cuddly baby in a manger. He came to live out the perfect life of God in a man, in order to be the perfect sinless sacrifice. Christ’s complete incarnation in birth, was intended to go beyond the parameters of a singular human form within a particular historical period. The infinite, eternal God continues to birth His Son at the moment of salvation in every believer.

The Christian life is the process of allowing God’s divine life to be lived out in man, allowing the life and character of Jesus Christ to be lived out through us. Paul explained that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).

So in closing what is the true meaning of Christmas?

We cannot emphasize the historical aspect of Christmas without understanding the birth of Christ in us! If we do celebrate Christ only on a historical level, we are engaging in ‘’religionism’’.

Christmas will remain a just another “religious holiday’’ until Christians understand the miracle of the new birth – Christ in us. Christ is born in people all over the world everyday! Whenever a person believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit places the seed of God – who is Christ, into them. (for more on this subject please follow this link: ). When Christ is formed in our soul realm – our minds, and when we come to the knowledge of the Son of God, we will personally know the indwelling of the His inside us. When this happens, Christmas will become alive to us, as we allow Jesus to be the expression of divine character in our behaviour within our families, our workplace, our culture, and wherever we might be.

Merry CHRISTmas to everyone!



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