Last weekend at Cross Point Church here in Nashville, Pete Wilson was teaching and referenced “The Magnificat”, which is the song that Mary sang after discovering she was pregnant with God’s Son. Speaking to an audience of Nashvillians (97% hipsters and/or people in the music industry – see above picture) Pete said that Mary was very “Nashville” because after going through a powerful emotional experience…she wrote a song about it.
I lol-ed, along with all the people around me who were wearing beanies, visible arm-tattoos, and judging me for putting sugar in my organic pour-over coffee (see above picture).
As he read Mary’s song, which I’d heard many times before, there was a phrase that caught my attention.
In Luke 1:51-52, Mary writes:
He has done mighty things with his powerful arm.
He has scattered those who are proud in their deepest thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones.
But he has lifted up people who are not considered important. (NIRV)
The part that drew my attention was the phrase “those who are proud in their deepest thoughts.”
It shook me a little.
It shook me because there are many times that I am prideful, but not the kind of pride that most people could identify. Maybe the people who know me best might be able to detect it a little, but I think I’m really good at fooling the majority of people into thinking I’m a humble, selfless, and generous person…despite what’s happening in my deepest thoughts.
One of the scariest teachings I’ve heard is by Bill Hybels called: “Who You Are When No One’s Looking.”
It’s scary because it forces me to admit that I think way more about who I am when people are looking than who I am when I’m alone. It forces me to admit that I practice my appearance more than I practice my character. That no matter what I can convince people of, God still knows my deepest thoughts.
I love Christmas gifts. I love giving them just as much as I love getting them. There are a lot of things about Christmas that I love (decorating our tree, the music, the movies) but by far, exchanging gifts is my favorite. I love the anticipation of opening presents, the authentic joy of a gift, and the obviousness of when someone is faking how excited they are for their new sock ironer, and everything else that goes along with it.
I sometimes get a little sick of church signs or iPad commercials telling me about the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ but at the same time, I probably wouldn’t ever think about it if I wasn’t reminded to. And the real meaning of Christmas is gifts. Or more accurately, one gift. The greatest gift ever given: Jesus.
Jesus was a gift.
A crazy generous gift. Like a billion PS4’s. God gave us His Son. And not just to spend a few years with us, but to die for us. God loved people so much, He gave the most generous, sacrificial gift ever. The life of His Son.
My favorite Christmas song ever is called “I Celebrate The Day” by Relient K and my favorite line of that song is:
“I celebrate the day that you were born to die so I could one day pray for you to save my life.”
Up until I heard that song, I’d never put it all together that Jesus was born to die. I mean, I knew that’s what happened but people generally think about Good Friday during the chorus of Silent Night. Christmas is such a joyful time of celebration and hearing the story of Jesus being miraculously born. He’s this cute little baby surrounded by calmly grazing animals and shepherds who came to worship Him.
But He wasn’t born to give us nativity sets or Linus something to say on stage.
He was born to die.
He was born to die for the pride I have in my deepest thoughts.
Because Jesus died for me when I was at my worst.
I’ve often heard that Jesus was thinking of each human being as He died on the cross, which I believe is true. But He wasn’t thinking about us when we’re at our best, He was thinking about us when we were at our most sinful. Jesus died for you and me when we were at our worst. He died for the me who disobeys God. The me that is selfish, lustful, hateful, prideful, and cruel. That’s the Dugan He pictured when He was dying. He didn’t just love my best to die for me, He loved my worst. And not just the worst that people see, but the worst that only He sees in my deepest thoughts.
He loved me more at my worst than I love most people at their best.
And if ever there was a thought to celebrate Christmas, that’s it.
This Christmas I want to do my best to live with a deep sense of humble gratitude that Jesus was born to die for me. For the deepest sinful parts of me. And as I give and open gifts to and from loved friends and family, I want to remember that Jesus was a gift. To me, to you, to the whole world.
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16