I hope and pray that today is a day of restful reorientation for those of you who are being crushed under the weight of trying to make it on your own.
For those who feel the acute pressure of thinking you have to change your spouse if you’re going to be happy, you have to be on top of everything if you’re going to make it, you have to infallibly protect your kids if they’re going to turn out OK, you have to control what others think about you if you’re going to feel important, you have to be the best if your life is going to count, you have
to be successful if you’re ever going to satisfy the deep desire for
parental approval, and so on and so forth…Christmas is for you.
The Incarnation frees us from what Paul Zahl calls “the law of
capability”—the law, he says, “that judges us wanting if we are not
capable, if we cannot handle it all, if we are not competent to balance
our diverse commitments without a slip.” Because of Christmas, we are
now endowed with the strength to admit that we can’t make it on our
own–that we’re weak and needy and restless. Since our identity is now
anchored in Jesus’ strength, our weaknesses don’t threaten our sense of
worth and significance–our security. We’re now free to admit our
faults and failures without feeling like our flesh is being ripped off
The Incarnation of Christ serves as a glorious reminder that God’s
willingness to clean things up is infinitely bigger than our willingness
to mess things up. The arrival of God Himself in the flesh sets us free
from the pressure we feel to save ourselves from loneliness and
lostness, despair and dejection.
In short, Christmas is God’s answer to the slavery of self-salvation.
Whether it’s by trying harder or giving up, being good or bad,
pursuing wisdom or foolishness, sacrificially giving or selfishly
taking, we suffer under the weight of looking to ourselves for life’s
Christmas celebrates the glorious truth that no matter how hard we
try, we can’t do it. Apart from the Incarnation we are left to our own
devices. But Jesus came to liberate us from the pressure of having to
fix ourselves, find ourselves, and free ourselves. He came to rescue us
from the slavish need to be right, rewarded, regarded, and respected. He
came to relieve us of the burden we inherently feel to trust in
ourselves in order “to get it done.” Because Jesus came to secure for us
what we could never secure for ourselves, life ceases to be a tireless
effort to establish ourselves, justify ourselves, validate ourselves.
Because of Christmas, we have nothing to prove or protect. We can
stop pretending. We can take off our masks and be real. We hold the
wining hand. We have nothing to lose.
The liberating power of Christmas frees us from trying to impress
people, appease people, measure up for people, or prove ourselves to
people. The Incarnation frees us from the burden of trying to control
what other people think about us. It frees us from the miserable,
unquenchable pursuit to make something of ourselves by using others.
The Incarnation is God’s shout: “You’re free!”
As Everything, he became nothing so that you–as nothing–could have everything.