Growing Closer to God: Celebrating Jesus

We began our journey this year with the goal of growing closer to God by modeling Jesus’s life and character in the world around us. This month, we celebrate Jesus and the access to God we have through Him. Eugene Peterson’s The Message describes Jesus’s incarnation in this refreshing way: 

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish. 

Want to make this Christmas season one to remember? Let’s consider how to move into the neighborhood with our celebration. Let’s help people know God’s love this season by being generous inside and out, true from start to finish. Jesus’s names, so familiar to the Christmas season, can give us insight into how to model His character to our world. 

Isaiah predicted Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem, referring to Him as The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). 

You hear a lot about peace on earth at this time of year. But no matter the truce talks at Christmas, whether on the battlefields or in your home, you can’t impose peace. Peace radiates from the inside out—it follows when the heart is at rest with God. Consider the things that churn in your heart this season. Questions or decisions may weigh heavily on your mind. Relationships may be out of sync. With faith, surrender these needs to your Father. He promises that He will “keep in perfect peace [literally, shalom] him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in [Him]” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV).

Bethlehem’s angel announced that Jesus was The Savior, Who Is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11).

As our Savior, Jesus came to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). You can model His initiative this season by seeking out people who, because of a conflict or lack of time, have become distant. If forgiveness is needed, then offer it or receive it with grace. Certainly the cost or effort may be high, but you will thrill at how God redeems, or buys back, that valuable relationship for you. Model Christ this season by redeeming relationships with people who are important to you and to God.

Jesus Himself said He is The Light of the World (John 9:5).

Don’t you love to look at Christmas lights around your community? Ever notice that it’s in darkness that their beauty shines best? The same is true for you. You best reflect Jesus, the Light of the World, when you shine for Him in the world. Perhaps this is the month you should share with your neighbor the hope you have in Christ. Consider volunteering at your local women’s shelter or looking into any number of opportunities available through your church or in your community. Grasp every occasion this season offers to share the light of Christ with someone walking in darkness. 

The angel told Joseph that Mary’s child would be called Immanuel: God with Us (Matthew 1:23). 

After the holidays pass, Jesus’s name, Immanuel, reminds you that you’re not alone. Jesus remains “God with you.” You can model this reality as you deal with life’s most difficult moments. Who in your life needs to hear that God has not left him or her alone to face life’s challenges? A lonely parent? A struggling teenager? Consider the most effective way to communicate that encouragement to them. This reminder of God’s presence could be the most important present you give this year.

When December’s highs and lows settle into January’s predictable pace, gifts and gatherings will dim from memory. What you will remember tomorrow will be how God’s gifts became more personal and practical. You’ll remember how you modeled Jesus, who moved into the neighborhood so people could see His grace and glory with their own eyes. 

Taken from Insight for Living, “Growing Closer to God, Celebrating Jesus,” Insights (December 2000): 1–2. Copyright © 2000 by Insight for Living. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Insight for Living Ministries

Written by Insight for Living Ministries staff members.

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