By: Mike Kelly
My wife’s brother-in-law is a genuinely nice guy. He served in submarines during the Vietnam war and went on to be a postal worker for 30 years.
As I write this, he is laying in a hospital in Missouri trying to recover from surgery to remove cancer. The battle is intense, and I have no idea if he will win it. Right now, it’s too close to call. Prayers would be appreciated.
Now, why would I choose to write about him in a message prior to Christmas? Simple, he is one of the reasons Jesus came to Earth as a baby and grew into the man who died on the cross.
Christ came to save us all, even nice guys like my brother-in-law. Unfortunately, my B-I-L does not know Jesus as his savior.
Over the 30 plus years that I’ve known him, we’ve had numerous discussions about God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Interestingly enough, his favorite movie is Jesus Christ Superstar. About a year ago we watched it together and I was able to hear his interpretation of some of the scenes in the musical.
He does not have a good understanding of scripture, so he misunderstood a fair amount of the movie.
I tried to explain to him what the scriptures actually say about the particular times the movie covers.
I told him ultimately it all comes down to knowing that Jesus Christ was the savior of all mankind including him.
Unfortunately, I was not able to get him to see that he needs a savior. He completely relies upon his own life and his own deeds to get him into heaven.
He does believe there’s a God and that there is an afterlife called heaven, but he believes the way to get in is to live a good life. He sees it more as a calculation of more good works than evil deeds being the key to heaven.
It seems a bridge too far for him to be able to see the baby in the manger as the son of God who came to save mankind including him from their sins.
I’ll freely admit that the idea of the God of the universe humbling himself and becoming a human being so that he might live a perfect sinless life and die a perfect sacrifice to redeem men from their sins is a stretch sometimes.
Why would God do something like that? There is only one answer. He loves us that much. He was willing to die to redeem us from our sins and evil deeds.
It is virtually impossible for us to understand that kind of sacrificial love. Even the scripture says that “Scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:7)
That’s the Majesty and the Mystery of Christmas. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
In order for us to really celebrate the season we must understand the love that God has for us to do what he did. Without understanding the depths of his love, we would be hopelessly lost.
When you celebrate Christmas, celebrate the fact that you are that loved! That God loves you that much! He has always loved you! And he will never stop loving you! That’s the real reason for this season.
Don’t be like my brother-in-law who doesn’t believe God loves him enough to die for him. He thinks he has to earn his place in heaven. That’s just not possible.
We must rely upon the grace of God for our eternal well-being. When you think about God’s grace, then you are focused on the Son who was born in a stable and died on a cross and then was resurrected to sit at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty. Christmas isn’t about how good you can be but about how good God is.
Mike Kelly is the founding pastor of Bryan’s Grace Community Church (retired) and Board Chairman of Bryan’s Sanctuary Homeless Shelter and Williams County’s Compassion (free) Medical Clinic.