“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.’” - Matthew 1:23
There is a question that all of us will ask at some point in our lives. It’s a question that both the Christian and the skeptic will ponder. Young and old, black and white, rich and poor will all ask themselves, “Does God really love me no matter what? How long will His love endure?”
Most of us are confident of God’s love on Sundays – when our shoes are shined and our hair is fixed. We think we know how God feels about us when we are motivated, happy, and determined to tackle social injustice. What we want to know…what we long to know is how God feels about us when we aren’t on our best behavior. Does His love decrease a little bit each time we are rude? What about when we lose our temper, snap at someone for no reason, or tell a lie?
I know God loves me when I am obedient…even I like me then. But what about when my thoughts are in the gutter and my tongue is sharp? How does He feel about me then? If it is anything close to how I feel about myself then I am in trouble. Is there anything that can separate us from His love?
One of the beauties of Christmas is that God answered these questions before we could even ask them. He lit the night sky with a star so that we would see His answer. To make sure we heard His answer, He sent a choir of angels to pierce the silence, filling the crevices of uncertainty with hope. And so that we would believe His answer, God did what no one could have ever imagined…He became flesh and dwelt among us.
Immanuel, God with us, is God’s resounding “Yes!” Yes, He loves us no matter what. Yes, His love endures forever. Yes, yes, yes! How can this be when we are so flawed…so fickle…so weak? How can He know everything about me and still love me? God’s love is based on His choice, not on our performance. He doesn’t love us because we deserve it; He loves us because He wants to love us. It is a gift.
The miracle of Christmas is not only that God loves us, but also that He has made a way for us to love Him. That sweet baby in the manger is our way to God. What sin separates Immanuel bridges. What sin destroys, Immanuel heals. Immanuel is God’s final answer to every doubt and question. How much does God love you? Look to the manger…to the cross…to the empty grave. Immanuel, God with us.
Father, Thank you so much for loving me unconditionally. This Christmas, help me to remember that Your Son is the greatest gift of love that I could ever receive. In Jesus’ name, amen.