21. BEHOLD: The Unifier

Treaties are signed, even temporarily, for Christmas. In families and between countries, the agreement to live in peace for even just a short time is often made for the holidays. People step out of their normal routines, paying more attention to the needy and giving more than any other time of the year.

At Christmas, people seem to feel more unified.

There’s a reason for that, even if it’s wrapped up and stuffed away inside of many, many layers of worldly tradition and philosophy: Christ unifies us.

He came as a baby. We’ve all been babies. He had a childhood, friends, and even a job. Christ was fully man, making Him just like us. He was even tempted as we are tempted, so that:

“We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”

Hebrews 4:15

Though He did not sin, Christ died. Just like all of us, He had a time appointed for his life to end. We find unity in that life, and that death.

For those of us who know Him, we also find unity in the hope and promise we have that we will also live –and die- and then live forever with Him. In light of who Christ was and that gift He freely gives, we have every reason to join together in worship, gratitude, and praise.

Our model for unity is found in the trinity. All belong to each other because selfish ambition and pride is absent. In belonging to another, the will in the same, and the goal of each shared. Each one unified is unified for a reason:

“I in them and you in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

John 17:23

That godly gift of unity is found most when we enter the presence of the Lord, coming near to Him, because He is the unifier.

Behold, the only reason we can be unified despite out warring flesh.

Behold, the One who unifies us in praise.

Behold, the unity found in the Christ was fully man and fully God.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, and 
#Intentionally Pursuing

19. BEHOLD: The Coming

Places to go, people to see. We’re on the run, dashing through the (snow? Please?) At the time of Christ’s coming, it seems we’re all going somewhere.

Do you know the feeling? As you grab your keys and try to balance your stuff in hand while you scramble out the door, the sense of going pushes you and stresses you out. It’s not until you’re almost there that you being to feel more like you are coming than going.

When you’re halfway there, you begin to feel drawn instead of propelled. You feel invited, not obligated. Once the “going” is done, the “coming” begins, and the journey takes on a forward-facing purpose.

It’s no surprise that Jesus says:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

-John 14:6

To go to God is to map out one’s own way. To go implies that He is removed, far, or shifting. But to come is to be led along. Coming means following a path and accepting an invitation. In coming, we arrive not as the lost, but as the found.

Christ came. With his whole focus on being here with us, the Messiah came as the prophecies foretold. Christ is known for coming by the Holy Spirit and coming through a woman. He is known for coming as a lowly baby and for coming specifically to Bethlehem. When coming as a king, He came riding a donkey colt.

Every disciple He called he came to find. Each town He stopped in He came to, not stumbling by accident on the way or going as a matter of course. Christ was always coming alongside, coming to, and coming for.

The Shepherds and the wise men in their praise were comers. Mary and Joseph were blessed by the coming of their son. They came to Bethlehem to deliver the King.

We are blessed by that same coming, and we can emulate the beauty of it by, ourselves, coming.

Come to the manger. Come to the celebration. Come to the cross.

“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

Revelation 22:17

Don’t wait to be pushed and to hurry last minute. Don’t just go, with your mind focusing on what you’ve left instead of what you approach. Come, and behold Him!

Behold, the one has come for us.

Behold, the one who is coming for us.

Behold, the one to whom we never “go” as lost, but always “come” to, found.

12. BEHOLD: His Sacrifice

Little babies are one of the most precious blessings to behold in this world. We look on them with awe and wonder –their little hands and feet. Their tiny personalities. The miracle of new life in so small and fragile a package.

When Christ became a baby, new life was not born. He had long existed –longer than any man. More powerful, more perfect, than we can fathom, He gave all of that up to be one of us, and one of us at our most vulnerable –newborn.

For that to happen, there were miracles, and there were many sacrifices.

Mary’s conception was miraculous –and required the sacrifice of her reputation at very least. For Joseph to take Mary as his wife and raise Jesus as a son was a sacrifice to his pride and likely very costly in a number of ways. God, meanwhile, was sacrificing His only son. We know that later, Jesus also sacrificed Himself for us.

“But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins,

he sat down at the right hand of God”

Hebrews 10:12

Our modern celebration of Christmas comes with sacrifice too. We give up money to support the needy, contribute to celebrations, and get gifts for loved ones. Our time is certainly sacrificed to a number of things. For some of us, our talents are offered up, too. But to what end?

That newborn savior brought with Him a new birth into eternal life, for you and for me.

In our sacrifices, we have a model to follow after. His example is one of humility. He gave up that which was rightfully His –His place and person in heaven- to become like the least of us.

His sacrifice was made not to the altar of man and man’s demands, but to the Lord who so loved us. Can we say the same of our sacrifices this Christmas? Are they made out of love for the Lord?

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise

–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”

Hebrews 13:15

Behold, His great name, always worthy of our praise.

Behold, the ultimate sacrifice that now allows us be living sacrifices.

Behold, new life by the newborn’s sacrifice.

5. BEHOLD: Our Beholder

It’s easy to get too busy during the Christmas season. Many of us have a ton to do, people to see, plans to complete, and the deadline of each celebration to face. In the midst of the busy, it’s just as easy to peel our eyes from Christ to gaze instead at our many lists and calendars.

For many of us, there is no effort involved in removing Jesus from Christmas. We are not consciously trying to discard the reason for the season. Our gaze simply isn’t fixed on Him because we’ve got so much else we’re looking at.

Ironic, right? While celebrating Christ, we struggle to do what would seem most natural at this time:

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith”

Hebrews 12:2

Though we decorate to honor His birth and sing carols to remember and praise His arrival, we’re often too busy beholding the wonders of beautiful traditions and earthly joy to gaze in awe at our Lord.

Yet He is never too busy, distracted, or caught up. Our Lord, whether we gaze back or not, has fixed His eyes upon us.

“The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous”

–Psalm 34:15

“I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

Psalm 32:8

The pioneer, author, and perfecter of our faith delights in beholding us. Our creator, our heavenly Father, has fixed His eyes on each of us –just as the sparrow.  He can behold us with awe and wonder because His work in us, often in spite of us, is awesome and wonderful.

Imagine –in our carol-singing, house-decorating, card-exchanging, and stressed-preparing moments, He is beholding us in love. From those same places, we can gaze back at Him.

Behold, the one who beholds us.

Behold, the one whose eyes we can meet because Christ has made it so.

Behold, the perspective of the perfect One.

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

Genesis 1:31