For many seekers, Christmas doesn’t make sense to them.
They wonder why God had to become a man and why it’s so important. If this is you, I would like to explain Christmas by answering four simple questions about God without using religious jargon. As a result, my hope is that you will better understand the meaning of Christmas.
What is God like?
When we look at the universe around us, we can discover a few characteristics about God. For example, the vastness of the universe shows that God had to be powerful to create it. But how could we know the details of what God is like? How can we understand a Being that is so far beyond our comprehension?
Christianity teaches us that God became a man to make Himself known to us (John 1:18). Without specifically revealing Himself, we wouldn’t know who God is beyond what we can discover in the world around us.
For example, how do we really know that God loves us? According the disciple John, Christmas is the answer: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world” (1 John 4:9). Through God becoming a man, we learn that God loves us deeply.
God became like us so that we could understand Him.
What does God expect of us?
How do we know what God desires of us? More specifically, how do practically live a life that pleases God?
Jesus gave us a human example of how to live. First John 2:6 says that “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
We can look at Jesus and see how he interacted with others. We can see how he handled friends who let him down. We can see how he reacted to people cursing his name. We can see how he prioritized his time and what kind of people liked to be around him. Christians are followers of Jesus in the sense that we strive to walk like Jesus in every area of our lives.
God became like us to show us how to live.
How can God interact with us?
Through Jesus we know what God is like and how we should live. But does God then leave us on our own? If He doesn’t, how can God help us if He seems so far away?
Another purpose of Christmas is that God experienced what it’s like to be human. He experienced pain like we do. He experienced joy like we do. He experienced friendship, sickness, death and even temptation:
“For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
Because God has experienced what it’s like to be one of us, He can help us in our time of need. The Christian God is not a cold and distant one. He knows what we are going through because He has been through it Himself.
God became like us to be present with us.
How can we have a relationship with God?
One of God’s characteristics is moral purity. One of God’s requirements is that we be pure like Him. However, we cannot make ourselves pure because of our evil desires. Simply put, we don’t live up to God’s standards for us. Christians call this sin.
This is a substantial problem. God requires perfection and our imperfection separates us from God. You see a human had to keep God’s standards perfectly and a human had to die as a substitute in our place. At the same time, only a divine being could obey the law perfectly and pay the price for sin.
Only someone who was God and man could bridge the gap between God and man. That person is Jesus. All of this couldn’t have happened if Jesus had never been born. Now God invites us into relationship with Him because of what Jesus has done.
God became like us so that we can have a relationship with Him.
The Man and the Birds
Longtime radio broadcaster Paul Harvey used to tell a story during Christmas time about a man’s encounter with some birds. This man was never interested in Christmas. To him, the story didn’t make sense. One night while his family went to church and he stayed home, he heard some birds outside of the window.
He immediately saw that these birds needed help. He wanted to shelter them from the freezing cold, so he tried to draw them into the barn out back. But the birds didn’t move because they didn’t understand what he was trying to do. In fact, they were terrified of him. Then it dawned on him:
“If only I could be a bird, and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe, warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand.”
The man finally understood the meaning of Christmas. I hope you do too. If you haven’t yet, I pray that you would receive the greatest gift of all:
“To all who did receive him [Jesus], who believed in his name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).