Jesus by dying for us enables us to be changed (for unlike Scrooge we cannot change ourselves). We by nature are wrong with God because of what each of has done wrong, but Jesus offers us the opportunity to be forgiven and become right with God. We become as he is – a son or a daughter of the living God. He becomes our brother.
What’s Christmas about and what does it show us about what means to be a Christian?
Many people enjoy Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”. (My favourite version is undoubtedly Michael Caine, pictured above, in that great classic “The Muppet Christmas Carol”.)
“A Christmas Carol” is a wonderfully crafted story telling of Scrooge’s moral reformation. We all know the story. Thanks to the intervention of the three ghosts, Scrooge realises he is a miserable, grasping miser. He changes and becomes instead a generous and kindly benefactor.
Many people think that this is a picture of the Christian faith. Becoming a Christian they think means like Scrooge turning over a new leaf, being good, going to church. God loves us if we are good (new Scrooge) and hates us if we are bad (old Scrooge). Therefore we need to become like new Scrooge and do good and then God will love us.
This is wrong. A better guide than Dickens is a man called Athanasius (below Scrooge) writing in the fourth century. He said about Christmas
“Christ became what we are so that we might become what He is.”
Let me explain. “Christ became what we are”. This is Christmas: that the God who made the entire universe became a human being, lying in the manger, tiny, weak and helpless. He became like us, crucially including in our vulnerability to suffering. In fact he was not only vulnerable to suffering, he amazingly actually chose to suffer for us by dying on a Roman cross and this was the reason he was born.
A great exchange occurred at Christmas. Through Jesus’s birth God “became as we are” – becoming a human, being born and dying – that we may “become as he is.”
“We become as he is. “ Not that then we become God but rather that we are adopted into Gods family. Jesus by dying for us enables us to be changed (for unlike Scrooge we cannot change ourselves). We by nature are wrong with God because of what each of has done wrong, but Jesus offers us the opportunity to be forgiven and become right with God.