How Close Can You Get - And Miss it All
The saddest story of Christmas is how those closest to Christ's birth completely missed that first Christmas; and that tragedy has continued to this day. You can be so close and yet so far away!
The real purpose of Christmas was shown by God at Christ's birth, God confronted the world with the only gift everyone really needs.
Christmas is about the gift no one seeks but everyone needs.
God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to save lost people from their sins.
God came to provide the only gift that everyone absolutely, critically needs—the substitutionary death of His Son, who came to meet our critical, eternal-life-threatening need prompted by our sins.
So the gift of Christmas is Christ's work of salvation. That gift involves meeting the critical needs each of us have in our lost, sinful and fallen condition.
Today as we continue to see those elements of salvation that Christ's birth has brought, we do so by asking the question, "How close can someone get to Christ and His gift of Christmas and not be saved?"
The answer is sadly that you can get very close. Missing Jesus and His salvation is seen most vividly in the story of Christmas. Those closest to the coming of Christ were most untouched by it! In both Luke and Matthew's record we find that you can grow up in the shadow of God's Temple, hear God's Word every day of your life, meet the Wise men themselves, explain the Old Testament to them—and still miss everything, if it is not inside your heart and mind.
ACQUAINTANCE vs. KNOWLEDGE
Christmas is a time to remember that Jesus came to save us from sin and live within us. Beware of getting so close in every way—but in your heart, to Christ. Beware of being acquainted with Christ but never knowing Him. Webster's Dictionary says that knowledge has three levels: recognition, acquaintance, and experience. Knowing Christ means a personal experience of His grace that leads us to partake of His salvation.
How close can you get to Jesus and still be too far away? That is what the religious leaders of Christ's day demonstrate to us this Christmas. So close they got, and yet so far away they remained. It is possible to be as close as them, and yet miss all that Christ and Christmas have to offer.
Matthew 2 and Luke 1 introduce us the chief priests and scribes, with daily immersion in the Scriptures, endless hours of singing and serving, and constant exposure to all that God had left to point to Him and His salvation—they only held God's Word externally—never in their wills and souls. God was only near in their mouths—and not in their hearts.
Christmas is a time to remember that Jesus came to save us from sin and live within us. Beware of getting so close in every way—but in your heart, to Christ. Beware of being acquainted with Christ but never knowing Him.
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