Christmas Changes Everything (For You & Me) Part 1: The Story READ: John 1:1 – 18 Part 2: The Revelatory; and Part 3: The Glory Today’s Focus: Verses 1 – 5 I recently read a book by Donald Miller (author of “Blue Like Jazz” and “Searching For God Knows What”), entitled “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned To Live A Better Story.”
The book is his life story; how he lived it, how he wished he had lived it, and how he would like to live the rest of it. I think that many of us could say that the story of our lives has not turned out like we imagined – Amen? And we wish we could do some rewrites, some edits – Amen? So, how do we do that? We can re-write our history; which would make us less than authentic, or we can focus on the future.
Question: What new chapters would you like to write into your life story? The story of Donald’s life, of your life, and of my life…takes a dramatic turn for the better when Christ enters the story. How many know that when Jesus Christ is welcomed into the story of our lives, we start writing some better chapters? Christmas is what makes those new and better chapters possible.
The story of Christmas is the story that changes everything!
To understand why that is true we need to go back to where the story of Christmas began. You may think the story of Christmas began in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago on what we call Christmas Day. But the story of Christmas actually began thousands of years before that. It’s the story of Jesus. It’s a story that began in the heart of God!
Listen to what John tells us. He takes us to the real beginning – to the One who inhabits eternity. He introduces Jesus as the Word. He tells us that Jesus was there in the beginning. Genesis 1:26 tells us that also. When God is creating mankind, he does not say, “Let me make man in my image.” He says: “Let us make man in our image…” It was a family decision!
Jesus was there! The divine word was present. READ: John 1:1 – 5 (NLT) “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John is writing to both Hebrews and Greeks, so when he uses the term logos or word, he is stating two truths. Truths that each culture can grasp.
1. In the Hebrew culture a word or a logos, was a spoken event – it was a happening, an action. John is saying to the Jews: “God is a God of action. He is not a do nothing God. He acts! He creates! He made it all happen! Jesus is this same God of action – a man of action bringing acts of God to the earth.”
A God who does not speak and act is a no-god; just a lifeless image on a shelf or in some shrine. John is saying that this God who existed before all things is not a lifeless God, but a God who speaks and acts. That’s the only way you can explain Christmas – God spoke and God acted!
That’s our hope in dark times; that God will speak and God will act in the desperate situations of our lives. He is not a lifeless image, but the living Word; still speaking and acting today! Aren’t you glad?
Otherwise all we have is words – thousands of words every day that come from our economic experts, political experts, legal experts, relational experts, etc. Words, words, and more words, but little action. Little action means little hope! 2. In the Greek culture, the logos has to do with mind and reason. To the Greeks, John is saying: “The mind or reason of God is behind what God does. God is a God or order. He takes the chaos of the world and makes it into a cosmos. He brings order in the universe.” We need order in our world and in our personal lives. Many of us have too much chaos and drama in our lives. We need a God who can speak some sense, some wisdom, some truth and some counsel into our chaos. A God who can make order out of disorder, and make ease out of disease!
The Question: Are you listening for His voice, reading His Word, waiting for His answers, or are you listening to whoever is the new “expert of the day” and chasing after quick fixes, easy answers and living by impulsiveness rather than wisdom?
This is why Christmas changes everything. It wasn’t some impulsive afterthought. It wasn’t some unplanned, let’s just see what happens, kind of event. Oh no, our God is a God of Spirit and a God of reason and order.
Sometimes in Pentecostal or Charismatic circles we put a high spiritual value on not planning and on being impulsive; as if being led by the Spirit means having no order or plan. If it’s spur of the moment, then it must be God – is how some think.
But Paul tells us in Galatians 4:4 that God was planning Christmas for a long time and “When the right time came, when everything was ready…then God sent forth his Son, born of a woman–to redeem us!” God is saying, “Be still, sit down and let me talk to you about my plan for a better story for you.” God wants to bring the wisdom of His plan and His order to your marriage, to your family, to your finances, to your relationships, to your emotions and mind. He has a plan that includes you! Christmas tells us that and that changes everything! Christmas offers us a God who thinks and acts!
Then John says, “And the Word was with God and the Word was God…”
It’s not either/or but both/and. All that can be said about Jesus the Living Word, can also be said about God. That’s hard to wrap our heads around, isn’t it? We just can’t humanly grasp that.
We hear the Bible says that the Father is God and the Son is God. But the Bible also distinguishes between the Son and the Father, so you cannot say that the Son is the Father, nor can you say that the Father is the Son. They are distinct, but God!
The difficulty in understanding this humanly lies in the very nature of God himself. He is not like us! Although we are made in His image and likeness, we are not by nature like God. So we have a divine mystery in how God makes himself known.
Here’s the question for us: Will we only believe what we can figure out, or will we believe what God tells us?
This is why some people rip the Christmas story apart. They make their ability to understand, the judge of what is real or not real. And, yes we must use our brains but we must avoid the pride that says, “If I can’t figure it out, then it’s not real.” That’s making my brain my god!
Christmas is filled with mystery – supernatural mystery. Not magic! Mystery! Divine mystery! Then in verse 3, John takes us to the real beginning of time and creation as we know it – to the time in eternity past when the One who inhabits eternity was present. It was his mind; the mind of God that brought about creation.
Think about this truth for a moment: All creativity comes from the mind of God! The root, source, or founding origin of all things is the mind of God. Did you know that this i-pad was God’s idea? Not Steve Job’s idea, but God’s idea that was placed in his mind. Steve now knows that!
You might be thinking, “Now that’s going too far, how do you get that out of that verse?” It says that through him all things were made, and without Him (Jesus) nothing was made that has been made. Sounds past tense, doesn’t it?
But the verb in the original language is in the perfect tense. It simply means that the creativity of the mind of God is still at work. It was made by Him and it is still being made by Him! God is not like us! We like sameness and the familiar. But the Living Word is into continual creative activity. So, God says, “Let there be an ipad and I’ll use Steve Jobs even if he doesn’t believe in me, even if he thinks he is the genius!”
Do you know how this changes everything? God with us – Christmas! – changes everything because it is not up to my finite mind to come up with the answers to my dilemmas.
But the Spirit of the Creator God and Savior lives in me and He can birth ideas, genius, new ways of thinking about the same old problems, new ideas, wisdom, plans, order, etc.
Do any of you need any of that, or do you have life all figured out on your own – and “No thank you I don’t need any help, and I don’t need God!” If you want to walk in darkness and stumble your way through life, then that’s the attitude for you. But if you want life and light to see your way, then you need something that God has that you don’t have – you need light and life.
Verses 4 – 5: The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. Christmas changes everything for you and for me! Those verses tell us that:
The meaning and purpose of life is found in Jesus the Living Word.
The origin and idea and truth about life is in Him.
Quality of life is in Him.
The healing of life is in Him. Wholeness in life and really living is found in Him.
Light to shine on the pathway for my journey through life is found in Him.
That light shines into the darkness and pain of our sin. It reveals our need and it shines the answer. It reveals our need and reveals God’s answer. “The light shines…” we read. The verb form denotes a continuous action. The light still shines!
Why is that important? To meet an ongoing and ever present human need. I need light or I will lose my way.
Story: Some of you may have been on the mission trip to the Ukraine (1995?) and remember how dark the streets were at night. The economy was so bad that in some areas you would have only one street light that was lit every couple blocks.
We would walk about eight blocks to the meeting hall each night. We were told that we needed to have a light, not only because there were very few streetlights, but also because there were many missing manhole covers. Stolen for scrap metal!
Do you know what a manhole cover is? Can you imagine how bad you could be injured if you fell into an open manhole?
We would get out our flashlights and light the way, and when we saw an open manhole, we would warn the others to be careful so they wouldn’t get hurt. What’s the point?
People get hurt, wounded, injured, and broken when they try to make their way through a dark world without light. Christmas changes all that! Now the people who are walking in darkness have seen a great light. That great light is Jesus! That great light still shines!
Think about this question: How does having a light change the journey when darkness is all around you? Let’s wrap this up until next week. Let me ask you, “Do you want to write a better story for the rest of your life? If so, how will you do that?” Because of Christmas, you can welcome the story of Jesus into the story of your life. Then you can welcome what He offers and start writing some new chapters.
What does Christmas offer us that changes everything?
1. A God who speaks and acts. A God who speaks into the desperate situations in your life. A God of action, not a lifeless god. A God who offers order for your disorder and chaos. A God who offers ease for your disease. He offers His wisdom, plan, and order for your life. Seek it out! Pursue it! Chase after wisdom!
2. Christmas offers us mystery, not magic. Welcome God’s mystery into your life. You don’t have to have it all figured out! What you have to have is a supernatural God! Not a God that you have all figured out and wrapped up with a bow on him. No, we need a God who’s in charge in our lives! A God we can bow to!
You don’t have to have all the answers! You need help from heaven – wisdom for life – new ideas – new plans – new ways of thinking.
3. You need light! You need Jesus! Or, you will lose your way in life and get hurt – some more! What new chapters would you like to write into your life story? Christmas makes that possible. Christmas changes everything! Some questions: Where in your life story do you need healing? Where is there darkness in your life and you need light? Have you lost your way and got hurt? Will you bring all of your life, your story, and your future to Jesus? When will you do that? How about today!?