Christmas Reminds Us of Our Deepest Longings

All around us we see and hear the images and sounds of the season: Christmas trees and bright lights, songs of cheer and of Jesus the child. Of course, Christmas today can represent a lot of things, including family, food, and football. Along with steaming cups of hot chocolate, we see generosity abound and families welcome time together. 

In all of this, the Christmas season reminds us of hope: a time to celebrate the fulfillment of longings we all share.

We all long to be cared for, understood, and known. We want someone to look into our eyes—but even more at our hearts—to see who we are and still deeply love us. We all have backstories. These backstories evoke a yearning that says, “If you only knew this about me.” We long for someone to understand this whole story. 

The Christmas story teaches us that God understands our own stories. During this season, we celebrate the coming of our Savior and King. The biblical story unfolds the need for a Savior and the promise of his coming. Prophets foretold his birth for centuries. After years of waiting, Jesus Christ the Messiah—Immanuel—came into the world. God became flesh, incarnate, for us.

In the coming of Christ, we start to learn how deeply God knows us and loves us. The good and the hurt of our backstory can pull us toward the central story of Jesus and the redemption he brings. The coming of Jesus acknowledges our deepest desires, freeing our lives from estrangement from the One we’re created for. God is with us.

What are you waiting for this Christmas? What do you want? Do you seek a Christ who loves unconditionally? One who accepts strangers and welcomes wanderers?

The baby swaddled in a manger two millennia ago embodies hope. But we must look to see it. Just look at the circumstances of his coming—the dirty stable and lowly shepherds with their sheep. In his birth, we see a God who turned people’s expectations completely upside down. He came in humility, through unexpected yet beautiful means, to draw the lowliest and most undeserving among us to himself.

Let’s look at three ways these events surrounding the birth of Jesus show the character and person of God. 

God Sees the Heart

If we’re honest, we probably wouldn’t choose a poor, young, inexperienced girl as our own mother. Yet God chose such a mother for Jesus. Likely in her teens, Mary lived in a humble home full of people, parents, siblings and others. Her lifestyle differed vastly from an average girl of the same age today. Imagine Mary spending her days laboring long hours over hot ovens, dirty clothes, and cooking supplies.

All of this raises the question: Why Mary? Of all the girls in the world—and our omniscient God knew each and every one—why this particular one?

To answer that question, we simply look at Luke 1. Notice Mary’s response when the angel Gabriel delivered the good news of God’s plan, that she was about to be with child. Perplexed at first, she asked, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). After Gabriel explained that this would be the work of God with whom nothing is impossible, Mary agreed, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

This encounter shows us the character of our God. God doesn’t look at a person’s social status, immense influence, or wallet width. God looks at a person’s heart. God did not see Mary and chose her because of her resume. God saw her humility. He simply saw surrender. She surrendered her life and trust God. With the yielding of her life Mary entered into the greatest of all stories.

This is the Savior we yearn for—one who invites imperfect, unimpressive people to join his work in this world.

God Is Drawn to the Humble

The circumstances of Christ’s coming subvert our natural expectations for a king. He arrived as a defenseless baby. He made his home in a manger, among oxen and sheep, rather than columned palace halls. Living under brutal Roman rule, an overlooked maiden and a working-class carpenter would raise the very Son of God. 

This is who God is. God is a God who identifies with the humble. In a world preoccupied with status, Christ came to show us a new way. Jesus chose unlikely people to be his disciples. He handed his mission to laborers, tax collectors, and misfits. Instead of spending time in elitist circles, he lived in the presence of the lowly, surrounding himself with children, the sick, and social outcasts.

In all of this, we see that Christ came not to call the popular, well-loved, or well-off to salvation. He came to call all people willing to accept his offer of the free gift of forgiveness.

God’s Love Is for Humanity

Think about placing the figurines around a nativity scene. Mary and Joseph in place? Check. Magi and their gifts? Check. Shepherds and sheep all present and accounted for? Double check. Imagine that nativity scene as a living reality. Imagine just how chaotic it would have been.

Start at the center: a peasant couple from a far-away town—one of them a young girl holding a newborn child, squirming and screaming. Beside them are wide-eyed shepherds and farm animals. In time, wise men arrive on the scene from the East, carrying more wealth than the overwhelmed couple had ever seen before.

The events surrounding the birth of Jesus show the character and person of God: He loves all, and his love is for all. The scene shows that God invites everyone to see it. There are no unworthy attendees—no one undeserving of Christ’s welcome. Such unmerited, undeserved love for all people groups answers another deep desire in our hearts. We all want to know that we’re welcome. We all want to feel that someone wants us. This small infant’s arms invite people of all tongues, tribes, and nations, because one day those arms stretched out on a cross.

As we celebrate with our friends and family this Christmas, let us remember how the Christmas story shows us who God is. Let us worship the Lord with sincere hearts, surrendering our lives afresh to God. Let us walk in humility, filled with wonder at God’s undeserved grace. Let us love those we meet, mirroring his character and love. Let us show people that hope has come and that God can fulfill their longing.

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This article originally appeared here and is reposted here by permission.