I love this time of year.
But I also think Christmas gets a bum rap. Sorry, no pun intended there.
As I see the brightly decorated homes and businesses, hear the songs that take me back to me childhood, and feel the weightless snow on my face, I am reminded that the Christmas season is in full swing.
I must admit that it is easy to get lost in the aura of all things Christmas – I love the season, the decorating, the festive parties, and especially the baking. Mmmm mmmm.
And in the midst of this, I think it is easy to get lost in a message and not reflect on the message. And that makes Christmas less than it should be and stifles its impact.
At our church, our pastor has been working us through the book of Ephesians. We recently dug deep into the following passage from Ephesians 2:11-19:
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.
The babe in the manger was a foreshadow of reconciliation for me
As a believer in the Gospel, I rejoice in that babe in the manger, Jesus, who was foretold by prophets. The Messiah was finally here…with us. I like looking at the nativity set that is in our living room whose central character is the Christ child. The angels shouted, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14).
Many thought that King Jesus was coming to finally put those Romans in their place and set up the earthly kingdom; meanwhile the disciples were jockeying for that right-hand place of power. Wow, did they miss the memo.
The babe in the manger was a foreshadow of reconciliation for me…with others
Don’t get me wrong. I am glad that we celebrate Jesus’ birthday each year because it represents the coming of a Savior. I need one because I make a horrible savior.
But we cannot stop there with the birth. And if we do I think we cut the celebration short.
Because the truth is that I can celebrate Christmas because of this fact: there is now a plan for my broken and flawed self to be reconciled with God because of Jesus. Do you know what reconciled means? It means friendly relations have been restored between me and my Creator. He received me into favor.
What was impossible has now become reality. “He Himself is our peace.” Savor that for a while.
And because of Jesus stepping in, the Gospel now allows me to have restored relations with those around me as well as encourage restoration and reconciliation among others.
And this has enormous implications for our leadership.
Leaders initiate reconciliation
Part of leadership is initiating actions or responses.
If I asked you, “who are you at odds with right now?” would someone come to mind? What about others? Are you around those who are bearing the heavy weight of a wall of hostility between them and another person?
Allow this season to really impact you in perhaps a new way: the way of reconciliation.
Why? Because Jesus ultimately came to reconcile…us with God and us with each other. And to miss that point at Christmas is to miss the point.
“I’m not making a move until….” Why? If you been radically transformed by the power of the Gospel, then lead. Lead by initiating. Lead by humility and love and commence a conversation with “that one.” Isn’t that what Jesus did for us? He led by initiating and it started with his taking on human form in that manger, but it ultimately led to a horrifying death, a sacrifice. But it was the ultimate act of restoration.
He took that first step because I was dead and needed life.
Realize that if you too have been made alive, Ephesians affirms the “immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe.” Power that you cannot quantify. Power that can change hearts and heal relationships.
I know the “noise in the soul” and the “well you don’t understand” and the “I just cannot let go.”
I get that – I have been there. But the good news of the Gospel is that the wall of hostility is now broken down between me and God. I was far off. He brought me near. I was His enemy. I am now His friend. I am no longer a stranger.
So why is what worked for us between God is not enough reason for it to work between you and others?
Enjoy the Gift this season, but as a leader, do not forget why the gift was given. Not only my reconciliation with God but also my reconciliation with others. Initiate and give that gift to another. You take the first step. You reach out. You be willing to place yourself “under.”
And that gift will keep on giving.