We are into yet another Christmas Season. And immaterial of the number of times we have done Christmas before, and have failed, we still want to do things right. We want to make all possible efforts to make things as perfect as possible. We buy the perfect clothes, we look for the perfect gifts for the children and loved ones, we look for the perfect Christmas cakes, we look for the perfect Christmas carols, We look for the perfect Christmas Tree, decorate it with perfect decorations, we look for the perfect Christmas meal, a perfect family get together etc etc. We spare no effort to make our Christmas perfect. We try to have a perfect celebration of Christmas. And then the predictable happens. Children and others are not happy with the perfect Christmas Gifts they get . Leslie went and brought both me and Neville two bright red shirts that she thought was perfect, and both of us found that shocking, because as Neville said, the shirt looked brighter than our red sofa. The Christmas event that we plan so meticulously gets criticized by many, who find loopholes in the planning. The carols we choose and sing turn out to be not too good for others. The Christmas meal that we painstakingly cook turns out to a bit burnt. The Christmas cake we thought looked so perfect develops fungus. The Christmas tree does not stand upright. The decorations are not balanced. There is either too much of it or too little of it. During the family gatherings that we so much looked forward to, Children end up fighting, adults end up arguing. In short, things go wrong and the perfect Christmas that we wanted to have seem like a distant dream.
Sounds familiar? You are not alone if you find this familiar.
The reason is simple. I have spoken about it multiple times. We are imperfect people. We mess up things. None of us can claim to be perfect people, and hence do make a festival perfect is not in our powers. Job 14:4 (MSG) tells us “There’s nothing much to us to start with; how do you expect us to amount to anything?” But we do not have to be disappointed. We don’t have to despair. There is good news. And that is the good news of Christmas.
The first good news is that there is something in Christmas that is perfect and that does not depend on you and me. You know what I am talking about. When we put Christ in Christmas, it becomes perfect.
Second God news is that We too can become perfect, not because of anything we did or ever can do, but because of the perfect gift that god gave us in the form of Christ during that first Christmas. A gift that is eternal, that is perfect.
Romans 3:24 (MSG) God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
Let us remember that this is the true meaning of Christmas. This is the true message of Christmas.
I love the way the message bible reaffirms this message. Hebrews 10:14 (MSG) It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process.
So the only way we can ever get Christmas perfect is by putting Christ in it.
So does that mean that we can just relax and enjoy that gift? Do we have a responsibility because we received such a precious and perfect gift? Let us read Hebrews 10:14 again. How does that end? ‘he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process” You note it is present continuous tense being used in the NJKV version For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Being Sanctified. While Jesus is a perfect offering, we human beings have to undergo some “makeover” to become like him. We are in the process. Paul himself confesses of this continuous process in Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV) Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Paul knew that he had to “press toward the goal”
So let us find out what it means to be made perfect in Jesus Christ. We have to first understand the example that Jesus set for us. Though he was perfect, though He was God himself, though He had no sin in him, He went through a process, Hebrews 5:8-9 (NKJV) though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. You see Jesus himself took on obedience and suffering to be perfect in flesh, in his human form. This is where things become difficult isn’t it? Jesus became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. Anyone who tried to “obey” Jesus knows how difficult it is. He asks us to love our enemy. He asks us to serve and not rule over people. He asks us to sell everything and give to the poor. He says we need to die to our self. He asks us to carry our cross. He asks us to turn the other cheek. He asks us to give more than what we can. He asks us to forgive innumerable times. He asks us not to be jealous when others get better treatment than us. He asks us to do humanly impossible things. And He makes it even more difficult by doing all that He says, He walks the talk, He just does not preach and go away like I do. How can we really follow that example?
How many of you have experienced a tooth ache? When you get a tooth ache, you actually want some quick fix. Don’t you? It is a terrible thing to have a tooth ache. You go to the dentist hoping that he will do something minor and the pain will go away. Imagine when you are told that it is not something that will go away quietly and it needs a root canal or even worse an extraction. Immaterial of how advanced the dental science is we still shudder at the thought of lying helplessly in a dentist’s chair and hear the drill buzz, and with those tubes going through your mouth just to get rid of that pain. All we want is a little bit of pain killer or aspirin or Dolo or Combiflam, so that the pain will go away. But the dentist says, sorry, it is not a small thing. I won’t address the symptom. I want to remove the root cause. You have to go through the painful and uncomfortable procedure of a root canal or an extraction. But once the procedure is over, you realise that it was a good advice that the dentist gave you. You are glad that the dentist actually did not concede to your request for a quick fix.
Trying to be perfect in Christ is like that. You look at Him for some quick fixes. You ask him for temporary solutions. You try to convince him that your sins are small sins and they don’t need a detailed pr painful procedure to get rid of. Every time you ask him for a temporary pain killer, He turns around and says, sorry my child, I cannot do that. I have to get to the root of the problem, and removal of the root of the problem requires a major surgery. It might be painful at times, but I don’t want to do quick fixes for you. I want you as perfect as I am. I want you as perfect as my Father is. Matthew 5:48 (NKJV) Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. He goes on to explain why he insists on a surgery and not a quick fix. Matthew 5:29-30 (NKJV) If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. Our request would have been to do some patch up, close the right eye for some time, put the right hand in a plaster for some time etc. No He insists. I cannot do a quick fix. I have to get to the root of the problem and do a surgery that will make you perfect like my father.
The reason why Jesus insists on a full surgery is simple. The alternative to “perfection in Christ” is hell. Yes, nothing less, hell. I am sure no one wants to hear a message about hell during the Christmas season. Not many preachers speak about this anymore, not the least during Christmas. We all want to hear smooth message, we all want to hear message of hope and love. And the Lord knows that too. Because he already prophesied about such people in Isaiah 30:9-10 (NKJV) That this is a rebellious people, Lying children, Children who will not hear the law of the LORD; Who say to the seers, “Do not see,” And to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. Jesus did not believe in speaking smooth things always. There are times He needed to get the message right into our heads, and this was one of them. This was concerning heaven or hell. Christmas is concerning heaven or hell. And he wants us in heaven. He is willing to defend us if we are willing to pay the price of suffering to become “perfect in Christ” Revelation 3:5 (NKJV) He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. And once our names are ensured in the Book of life, Revelation 21:27 (NKJV) But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Nothing imperfect enters heaven. And our only way to become perfect is through Christ, by submitting to Him, by stopping asking for quick fixes, by allowing Him to do surgery on us, so that we might be cleansed by His blood.
So what shall we do this Christmas season? Shall we continue to look for a perfect Christmas through the quick fixes that we are generally used to? Shall we continue to make our Christmas perfect with our own efforts? Or shall we look for the perfect Christmas by being “perfect in Christ”?
Romans 13:11-14 (NKJV) And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
And if we choose to do so, if we choose to be made “perfect in Christ”, he does not leave us alone.
Hebrews 10:19-25 (MSG) So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body. So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
Let us Pray