Dear Dave and Candace,
You came seeking help for your troubled marriage. We have listened carefully to your individual stories and pored over the results of your marriage inventory. Honestly, the future of your marriage looks pretty bleak.
So where do we begin? We could discuss your lack of commitment. We could identify the many causes of distrust between you. Your differing approaches to parenting could be examined. Then, of course, there’s the issue of alcohol abuse and the erratic behavior associated with it. Wound has been inflicted upon wound. Unyielding, you bristle, back to back, demanding your “rights” and clinging to your grudges.
On this December morning, as we considered the myriad of issues we could explore with you, we choose to inquire, “What will you do about Christmas?”
“Christmas?” you ask. “In the midst of our marriage crisis you want to discuss Christmas? Well then, you must be concerned about the added financial stresses of the season, the issues of dividing our time between extended families, the very real possibility that we will drink too much and things will get ugly between us.”
No, those are not the aspects of Christmas we want to discuss. Our concern centers around the baby in the manger. Do you know who He is? Do you know why He came? If only you both understood the reason for Christmas! May we tell you?
Jesus Christ, God’s son, is fully God. As God He was one with the Father before the foundations of the world. He shared in God’s majesty and holiness. But sin had fouled creation, separating God from the humans he created for fellowship with Himself. And so a plan took shape –a plan that would restore fellowship between the Creator and the created beings for whom He had tremendous love and compassion.
God, Himself, would become a flesh and blood human. He would begin life as a helpless infant, just like all of us. He would live, eat, play, and work among men. In so doing, He would experience temptations, pain, and sorrow just like we do. And yet He would live a perfect life, serving as our example of holiness.
But that’s not all. In the end God’s son would have to die, for only the blood sacrifice of a perfect lamb could pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus, God’s Son, was that perfect lamb.
The birth of “Immanuel,” God with us, was predicted in the book of Isaiah hundreds of years before that first Christmas: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” The very same words were repeated to Joseph by an angel announcing the pregnancy of his fiancé, Mary.*
“Here I am…I have come to do your will, O God,”** Jesus said when He stepped from Heaven into earth. His birth, His life, and His death would prove His incredible, totally undeserved love for us.
If that wasn’t enough, God extends to each of us the gift of forgiveness through His son. With open hands and no strings attached it is ours, free for the taking. Some try to earn God’s gift by doing good deeds, but He makes it clear we could never afford His extravagant gift. He paid our debt in full. Sadly, many of us reject this gift, simply by living as though it was never offered.
Do you know what happens when we do accept God’s gift? We are completely forgiven every evil thought and ignoble action. God sees us through Jesus, pure and holy, as if we had never sinned at all. Isn’t that marvelous?
You see, Dave and Candace, Christmas isn’t just parties and gifts. It isn’t perfectly trimmed trees and family get-togethers. Nor is it simply a sweet story from the pages of history. As your friends and marriage mentors, we believe it is the very best news we can share with you today. Your sins against God and each other, your guilt, your shame –all is forgiven if you will only bend your knees and humble your hearts before the baby of Bethlehem.
This, then, is our prayer and the only real hope we have for your marriage –that you will accept the best Christmas gift you will ever receive. And so we ask again, Dave and Candace, “What will you do about Christmas?”
In Christ’s Love,
Your Marriage Mentors
*Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23 (NIV)
**Hebrews 10:7 (NIV)
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