This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them, but God was merciful to me in order that Christ Jesus might show his full patience in dealing with me, the worst of sinners, as an example for all those who would later believe in him and receive eternal life.
— 1 Timothy 1:15-17 (GNV)
If Jesus came into the world to claim chosen people of proper lineage, selected before birth and preserved holy for His glorious kingdom, then I am without hope.
I’m not one to boast about past sinfulness. Some folks say I was a lightweight, anyway. But I am still jealous, prideful, greedy, hot-headed and lazy — that’s a partial list. As Paul says, I AM the worst! If it isn’t true, then it’s another example of pride and arrogance, and that’s bad enough.
Some people like a little earthiness in their pastor, but those who think I’m too worldly are correct. As Paul also said in the book of Romans, “O wretched man that I am!” Yes, we’re sinners, and it isn’t OK, and we ought to do better to honor our Lord. But here we are, imperfect and error-proned. Now what? Now God steps in.
We celebrate the Christmas miracle, a virgin birth and a guiding star to fulfill ancient prophecy. We celebrate a miraculous life of healing, interrupted by shameful death on the cross and culminating in resurrection and ascension to glory. We celebrate a cloud of witnesses martyred for the faith or dedicated to lives of selfless service.
I celebrate another Christmas miracle. I celebrate how Christ lives today through imperfect people like us, overcoming and sometimes using our imperfections to share His love.
As you light a Christmas candle this year, let it remind you that YOU are the light of the world. Thanks be to God!