Don’t you think Christmas brings out the best in people? And I’m not talking about people in the mall, or even people in mall traffic, I’m talking about people who take seriously the wisdom that it is better to give, than to receive. It’s refreshing, especially after studying the seven deadly sins for the past six weeks, to witness such widespread generosity. It seems like everywhere I go I see Angel Trees, Toys for Tots boxes, and efforts to support our troops. And you read about professional athletes, like Kurt Warner, who invest not just their money but their time to serve the less fortunate. I am so thankful that there’s something good left in us, despite all the pride, envy, lust, anger, greed, gluttony, and sloth.
Sometimes it seems we witness so much heartache, so much greed, so much anger, so much that is downright evil, that the decent act becomes striking. Were you awestruck on September 12, 2001 to see the depth of character of so many Americans? Or after the Tsunami of 2004? Or after Hurricane Katrina? We may be wholly imperfect beings, but there is a glimmer of something beautiful in each of us.
I’ve often wondered where that goodness comes from. The answer is found in Genesis 1: 27 which tells us that “God created man in his own image.” Each person is an image-bearer of God Almighty. The flicker of that image may sometimes be very dim, but nothing can fully extinguish it. Nothing can change the fact that each man, woman and child were made in the image of God.
Today I celebrate the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He’s my Savior because I know that I could never earn my way to heaven. The very idea, after taking a hard look at my own life through studying the seven deadly sins, is laughable. Earn a place in eternity with a holy, perfect God? Absurd. Presumptuous. Arrogant. No, I need a Savior for sure.
But the birth of Jesus is not just about eternal security, it is about the here and now. It is about being an image-bearer. The life of Jesus–his example of loving unconditionally and yet without compromise–is the goal, and the provision of the Holy Spirit is the way. As followers of Christ we need to take seriously our responsibility as image-bearers and embrace the power through the Holy Spirit to do so.
The Apostle Paul said “you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
Merry Christmas and may your image-bearing of God Almighty be evident to all in 2009.