I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. My guess is that for many, now, the Christmas music and movies and decorations are starting to come out . . . or at least you have a plan for it. I know we have already watched a few Christmas movies and we are starting to think ahead to when we might go into the hills and cut a tree, about our local church family coming over next Sunday for an open house fellowship at our home, about visiting with others, etc.
I know for myself, and I would assume that for most Christians, I hope that this Christmas season I can show Christ to, and share Christ with, others. I long to have Him be the center of my heart, life, thoughts, awe, wonder, thanks, words, and deeds. And, I think that this is a lot more simple than sometimes I make it as I too often tackle the issue with all this self effort, trying harder, trying to do more, etc. I think that it is, simply, found in surrendering.
Think, for a moment, about one of the most amazing realities of Christmas. It is Immanuel—God with us. Jesus came in the flesh and walked among us. He lived completely reliant on the Holy Spirit and completely surrendered to the Father. His words and deeds were so much the Father's through Him that He could say, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father."
Then something even more amazing happened. He died, rose from the dead on the third day, ascended into Heaven after 40 days, and now comes, as the Holy Spirit (God Himself!) to dwell inside every believer. If you have surrendered your life, in faith, to Jesus and received His work on the cross in your place as the basis of your salvation you are born again, a new creation, with God Himself living within you!
The Bible tells us we are the body of Christ, His hands and feet, and He is the head. How does a human body best please and represent the mind (head)? Not by its members running off on their own self effort driven attempts to do good, but by simply surrendering to the head and letting the head dictate its wishes and direction to them. It doesn't mean they are lazy or not doing anything. It does mean they are letting the head live out through them. That's a body fully functioning in the simplest human sense, and in the body of Christ sense.
God lives in us and, just like Jesus modeled in His relationship to the Father, He desires to live through us. What He needs from us is surrender. Basically, to get out of the way in a sense. Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." That is the reality. As Christians, Christ lives in us. He simply wants to live through us.
How does Christ, living in us, best live through us? When we surrender and let Him. When, in faith, we rest in His presence and voice in us and let Him lead us and guide us into His plans and purposes and words.
When will the world see the image of Christ in us? When we let Him live through us and they see Him and not us at work.
This Christmas I want to get out of the way. I want to live aware of His voice and leading and nudging, and then to obey and follow them. I don't want to be so consumed by my own good ideas and self effort that I have no room, or silence, to hear His voice and sense His leading. No matter how good my intentions the world still only sees me when I am the one leading. It may even be big, religious stuff I am doing and still not be Him. Only when I let Him truly live through me will they truly see Him and not me.
That is my hope this Christmas and my guess is that, if I am able, my other great hope for this Christmas will be realized. This hope is that the awe and reality and wonder and gratitude of God coming to earth for me, and living (and dying) among us for me, would captivate my heart and break through the walls of numbness I sometimes feel to the amazing truths I preach. I long to be overwhelmed and awed and captivated by the reality of His love, and majesty, and holiness, and presence and my guess is that I will most achieve this when He is living most fully through me as, then, not only will others—but also myself—be most close to seeing the image of Christ and experiencing Him most fully.