written by Hollen Hostetler
It seemed I found a million and one reasons to be frustrated today. The nurse at the doctor’s office spoke with contempt on the phone, I almost got backed into in the parking lot, there were too many people at the store, that lady didn’t return my smile. . . the list goes on and on and on. As I milled around the grocery store with the hundreds of other men and women (all in masks) who were doing their last-minute Christmas shopping, I was full of an attitude of disdain, frustrated over how many of them seemed to be ‘in my way.’ As a sense of the rottenness of my attitude began to wash over me, I considered what might change if I began to view my fellow shoppers as on the same team as I – all of us shopping together rather than me versus them. Then, a quiet, inaudible voice said, ‘They weren’t in My way.’
My spirit was immediately pricked as I realized the irony of the situation. I needed to come home to write an article – this article – about the fifth theme of Advent, Jesus Christ. And there I was in the grocery store, acting anything but Christ-like. Suddenly, I was a little undone right there in the middle of the aisle, and I knew exactly what I needed to write about.
You see, we weren’t in Jesus’ way. He condescended by coming to this earth in the form of a man far more than any one of us will ever have to – because He loved us. His was a love that superseded all our sins and imperfections – He came even though we didn’t recognize Him, died for us in our unrepentance, and left His Spirit to be with us even though we didn’t want Him. Jesus, more than anyone ever has or will in the future, knew what it felt like to be looked upon with contempt. Isaiah 53:3 says, ‘He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.’ Luke 2:7 reminds us that the birth of Jesus was anything but glorious, ‘Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snuggly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough – because there was no room for them at the lodging place.’
The beauty of Christmas is that that tiny baby lying there in the hay would make it possible for us to know Him by shedding His own blood for us. He wants a relationship with us – one that, through His Spirit, enables us to love those around us with a selfless and gracious love, rather than looking on them with contempt. This Christmas, remember that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, and allow His love to flow out of you to those around you.