“Glory to God in the Highest,” Day 9: The Christmas Spirit

December 9, 2016

I recently created a 31-day Advent/Christmas devotional booklet for my church called “Glory to God in the Highest.” I will be posting a devotional from it each day between now and the end of the year. Enjoy!

Scripture: Matthew 1:22-23; Philippians 2:5-11

glory_cover_finalTheologian J.I. Packer reflects on what it means for Jesus to empty himself and become Immanuel, “God with us”:

For the Son of God to empty himself and become poor meant a laying aside of glory; a voluntary restraint of power; an acceptance of hardship, isolation, ill-treatment, malice, and misunderstanding; finally, a death that  involved such agony—spiritual even more than physical—that his mind nearly broke under the prospect of it. It meant love to the uttermost for unlovely men…

It is our shame and disgrace today that so many Christians—I will be more specific: so many of the soundest and most orthodox Christians—go through this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord’s parable, seeing human needs all around them, but (after a pious wish, and perhaps prayer that God might meet those needs) averting their eyes and passing by on the other side. That is not the Christmas spirit. But it is the spirit of some Christians—alas, they are many—whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the marginalized of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on as best they can…

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The Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor—spending and being spent—to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others—and not just their own friends—in whatever way seems need.

What ambitions do you have? Are they compatible with what Packer calls the “Christmas spirit”? What practical things can you do this Advent and Christmas season to live out this spirit? What habits can you develop in this new year to live out the Christmas spirit throughout the year?

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