Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude 22-23 (NIV).
Mercy. That’s really the story of Christmas, you know. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, so let’s spend some of the last verses of Jude talking a little about why Christmas happened.
In my way of thinking, Christmas happened because of mercy. Love and mercy are intertwined, and there’s really no way to undo that. The merciful are merciful from love, and love shows great compassion and mercy. There’s really no better statement about mercy that an eternally loving God could make than by giving Himself to us as one of us in the most humble way.
After all, first century Judea was full of people in doubt. First century Judea was full of people burning with fiery desire. First century Judea was full of people who were afraid: afraid of the Romans, afraid of their Jewish overseers who had lost their common touch, afraid God had forgotten them. First century Judea was full of people who hated the corruption of sin even as so many of them were tangled up in sin.
Come to think of it, first century Judea sounds a lot like twenty-first century America. Or Uganda. Or England. Or anywhere here on the 2020 third rock.
Here, now, in our world, there are people burning up. Whether it’s hell’s damnation fire for our lifetimes of sin, or the psychological fire of sin’s consequences here and now, people are burning alive. The fires of anger, hatred, unforgiveness, and spite alone are enough to scorch and scar us. If you don’t believe me, how else can we account for crime, war, and a hundred other pestilences?
Sin is fire. Fire awaits those who don’t throw it off. Lord have mercy on us.
Enter Christmas. Christmas is hope; Christmas is about love. And mercy. The God who loves us and wants each of us to be with Him forever had abundant mercy on us. He came here Himself as a man just like us, arriving as a baby just like any other human. The world back then was burning alive in fire, so God had mercy on us and sent us Christ Immanuel on that first Christmas morning.
In our lifetime of fears, once a year there is a brief moment when we get to remember that God is with us always. That He had mercy on us when we didn’t deserve it, where we least expected it. Christmas is in two days. Enjoy the mercy of it today.
Tomorrow, let’s talk about Easter.
For further reading: Amos 4:11, Zechariah 3:2-5, 1 Corinthians 3:15, Jude 24
Merciful God, I’m excited for Christmas once again. Thank You, praise to You, for Your mercy and love, and for this Christmas.
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