How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift was given
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive Him still
The dear Christ enters in
I heard the story this weekend about someone who discovered a framed poster in front of someone’s house with the sign “FREE” stuck to it. Closer examination revealed that it was a very large poster made up of motivational sayings all in different colors and calligraphy — sayings like, “In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can,” “Quitters never win, and winners never quit,” or “If you can dream it, you can do it,” “Mistakes are proof that you are trying,” and of course, the Nike mantra: “Just do it.” And if you got close enough to this motivational tool, you could see a couple stickers on the bottom with a handwritten message from the current owner: “This isn’t working for me,” and “You can have it.”
There is a wealth of truth in this picture. Fixing ourselves is way overrated. Just ask Moses. Moses was the guy who brought the Ten Commandments to earth only to find that before he could get down the mountain with the stone tablets inscribed by the very finger of God, the people he was leading had already egregiously broken the first one.
Our inability to follow the laws of God was captured for all of us on the face of Moses in the form of a veil with which he hid his face for the rest of his life. Its original purpose to protect the people from the bright glow from being with God was soon usurped by the somewhat devious plan to keep them from seeing that the brightness didn’t last (2 Corinthians 3:13). In other words, like the owner who was giving away the poster, he might as well have been saying all along about the law, “This isn’t working for me.” And indeed, it wasn’t. It was never supposed to. All the motivational sayings in the world cannot penetrate a veil that we all wear of inadequacy about the law and self-improvement.
The only hope for us in this regard is the hope that came to us that first Christmas. Christ Jesus, God’s Son, came to earth that He might be born into the hearts of all who believe. This is the part of Christmas you don’t hear that much about. You hear about His coming as the savior of the world, but not so much as our enabler, but that’s what He is. He is not born in us just so we can be buddies, but to enable us to do His will. It’s called the new covenant, the old one being forever hidden by failure and coverup behind the veil of Moses. You and I with unveiled faces are being transformed into His image by the Spirit who lives in us (2 Corinthians 3:18). He does what we can never do, and He does it through our human flaws, just as we are, so His grace can be easily detected as the source of the transformation (2 Corinthians 4:7).
So this Christmas, focus on Christ being born in you. Maybe that’s why He was born the first time into a smelly stable. Not that much different from being born in us.
O Holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today
The First Gift