December 2nd marked the beginning of the Advent season for Christians. It is a time of preparing for and focusing on the celebration of the birth of Christ on Christmas. But it is also a time remember why we celebrate. As the Dr. Seuss story shows us, the WHO understood that Christmas far transcends commercialized greed and external trappings.
You remember the story. The Grinch, the mean and green thing, could not tolerate the noisy festivities and joyful celebrations in Whoville. So there on Mt. Crumpit he “stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos...” The reason for this hate was that his “heart was 2 sizes too small.” Theologically we call that the effects of ‘sin.’ And it’s out of sinful hearts that sinful actions arise. As the grinch stood there, “The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea!” The Apostle James knew this sequence when he wrote;
“But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.” Ja. 1:14-15
So the Grinch’ awful idea is to “steal” Christmas and “prevent Christmas from coming.” This sounds much like today, where Grinchs turn Christmas into a ‘Holiday!” But after his nefarious deed is complete, and back on Mt. Crumpit in his retreat, he waits for that sound so sad. But the sound he heard was not what he expected. It was the sound of joyful singing. Christmas wasn’t prevented! “It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!” It was then that “the grinch’s heart was strangely warmed” and his heart “grew three sizes larger that day.” So he returned all the gifts and joined in the celebration of Christmas with the Who’s down in Whoville.
This is a story of redemption and the transforming power of faith that is the true meaning of Christmas. It’s not about ribbons and tags and packages, but what the birth of Christ meant and continues to mean. When the Angel appeared to Joseph in a dream he said;
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Mt.1:21
Jesus is the remedy for ‘hearts two sizes too small.” Through faith in Christ and His redemptive, substitutionary work on behalf of His children, we have the opportunity to find forgiveness of sins and new life in Him. In that single moment of authentic belief, when we see our need for The Savior, our hearts, “grow three times larger.” Paul put it this way;
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
This is why on that first Christmas the angels sang;
“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” And, “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” Mt.2:11 & 14
The “Good News” is that through Christ “Peace with God” is possible. No longer do we need to fear being judged and punished for our sins. Christ has atoned for them, he has taken upon himself the punishment we deserved. That should make anyone want to sing!
It made the captan of a slave ship, John Newton, whose heart was definitely two sizes too small, a new creation and his heart grew three sizes larger. It inspired him to write the famous hymn;
“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound - That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”
The same with John Wesley. Outwardly a very religious man, Anglican priest, missionary, bible student, yet inwardly without peace, doubtful of his standing before God. Then, one night he was invited to a evangelistic meeting and everything changed;
That evening he reluctantly attended a meeting in Aldersgate. Someone read from Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to Romans. About 8:45 p.m. “while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
Wesley went on to found the Methodist church. He wrote the hymn, ‘Jesus Thy blood and righteousness My beauty are, my glorious dress;”
Prolific author and pastor, A.W. Tozer was not born a Christian nor had any interest in it. Late one afternoon in 1915, while walking home, he saw some people assembled listening to a street-corner preacher. As he drew near he heard, “If you don’t know how to be saved, just call on God, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.” Upon arriving home he went to his attic to consider those words.
“No one knows all that transpired in the Tozer attic that afternoon in 1915. But Aiden Wilson Tozer emerged a new creation in Christ Jesus. Aiden’s conversion to Christ was a transforming experience in every way. Inclined to be cynical, he thought nothing of turning to agnostics or even to atheists for counsel. Suddenly, his entire life as radically and wonderfully redirected. A whole new world had opened up to this youth with unbounded intellectual curiosity. It was a world that would take him a lifetime and more to explore fully.
Paul, who had been writes;
“I intensely persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.” Gal.1:13
But his encounter with the risen Christ changed his heart and life forever.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst.”
Yes, That’s what Christmas is all about. Christ came for Grinchs, sinners in need of salvation. Paul was transformed by the power of Christ and he, like all the Who of Whoville, knew the Spirit of Christmas is in the heart. The only ‘gift’ that matters is the one from God himself - His Son, Jesus Christ.
This Christmas may we join with Paul is shouting with hearts of gratitude;
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
Merry Christmas to you. I invite you to join us here at Lynbrook Baptist for our Sunday services @ 10:45AM and Christmas Eve Candlelight service @ 6:00PM.
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