Why do we celebrate this holiday? Why do we trim the tree, deck the halls, put up lights, exchange gifts, cook special food, listen to special music, eat, attend parties, concerts and plays, eat more, visit family we otherwise try to avoid, endure shopping malls, and spend more money than we can afford, only to wake in January with a financial hangover. Why do we do this year after year after year?
And why the birth of Jesus? My birthday doesn’t get near the attention his does. Neither does yours. The world doesn’t pause. Wars don’t cease. Businesses don’t offer “black Friday” sales. The Commerce Department doesn’t track consumer spending around the time of my birthday. So why does Jesus’s birthday get all the attention?
These are the kind of questions an unbelieving world asks. For example, did you hear about the ad campaign sponsored by the American Humanist Association? Appearing on Washington D.C. busses throughout the month of December are ads that read, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake.” The atheists are spending $40,000 to get their message out.
Why Christmas? A four-letter word explains it. Are you ready for this? L-O-V-E. Christmas is God’s way of saying, “I love you!” Love is the essence of who God is. God doesn’t have love; he is love. We wouldn’t know what love is apart from God.
Love demands expression. Love is a verb. Christmas gives full expression to God’s love. Love is Christmas and Christmas is love.
The Bible answers the “Why Christmas?” question in twenty-six words. “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).
How does one begin to talk about the love of God? We’ve diluted the word love so much that I find myself saying “I love pizza” and “I love my wife, Cathryn” in the same breath. We also confuse love and lust. A teenage boy says to his girlfriend in the backseat of a car “but, I love you” and for the rest of their lives they have a difficult time giving and receiving love. Sometimes we look at love through dark and painful glasses like abuse and wonder why we have a hard time embracing God’s perfect love for us.
Even in the best of circumstances, the love of God is difficult for us to grasp. The apostle Paul interceded for the Ephesian believers this way,
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV
I love this prayer! (see how easy it is to weaken the word) It describes the multidimensionality of God’s love. Pull out your tape measure. Make sure it’s a long one. God’s love has breadth, height, length and depth.
The Message paraphrases Paul’s words by talking about “the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.” It encourages us to, “Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”
Why Christmas? Consider the extravagent dimensions of God's love.