News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: Christmas: a time to remember that God is thinking about us

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–When one thinks about the meaning and message of Christmas, the miracle that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ must immediately come to mind. The Apostle John declared, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, NASB).

Apart from the incarnation, there really isn’t anything special about Christmas. In fact, without the incarnation there is no Christmas.

One way to explain the miracle that God became man is to say that God is thinking about humanity. Roger Rosenblatt of Time magazine disagrees: “This is the season when one tends to think about God (if one thinks about God at all), and I would like to offer the opinion that God is not thinking about us. Or if he is (I’ll stay with he), one has no way of knowing that — unless, of course, one is like Mohamed Atta, who had a pathological view of faith, or Jerry Falwell, whose mind is Taliban minus the bloodlust” (Dec. 17, 2001).

It’s very sad that someone of Mr. Rosenblatt’s prominence and ability could hold the view that God is not thinking about us. The logical outcome of Rosenblatt’s impersonal view of God is found in his belief that, “So indefinite is my idea of God that I do not connect it to morality.” (It’s also quite disturbing that he would so casually equate an evangelical Christian and an Islamic terrorist — this has become commonplace in recent months. But that’s the subject of a future commentary.)

One of the central messages of the entire Bible is that God is thinking about us. Starting with the creation of humanity with Adam and Eve, continuing in God’s call of Abraham and his election of a people to be his own for the purpose of being a light to all the nations, and ultimately bringing human history to its culmination as predicted in the Book of Revelation — the whole of the biblical record is that God is thinking about us for the purpose of glorifying himself in his Son, Jesus Christ.

The birth of Jesus as recorded in the Scriptures most brilliantly demonstrates that God does indeed think about us. In the incarnation, we have God’s clearest explanation of who he is and what he expects of us. John says, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18). The angel of the Lord told Joseph that Mary’s child was conceived of the Holy Spirit and instructed him to “call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” which fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah (7:14): “The virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son and they shall His name Immanuel” — “God with us” (Matt. 1:20-23).

E.Y. Mullins, Baptist theologian and highly influential leader in the Southern Baptist Convention at the turn of the 20th century, ties the incarnation of Jesus to the sovereignty of God. Writing in his most famous work, “The Axioms of Religion,” Mullins says,

“Now sovereignty expressed in terms of love and righteousness is the outstanding fact of the Gospel. The incarnation of God in Christ is the greatest of all conceivable expressions of that sovereignty. It is the expression of a sovereignty of power, indeed, but it is most of all an expression of the sovereignty of character, the sovereignty of holy and loving fatherhood. Its very essence is that the Father gave the Son, and that the Son came to reveal the Father. Thus God manifests His sovereignty in the first instance by taking the initiative in salvation, and this initial expression of sovereignty in which He approaches man and reveals Himself and pleads with man to be reconciled unto Himself through the revealing Son is the index to all His sovereignty — a sample, so to speak, which reveals what sovereignty is in it deepest essence.”

At the dawn of the third millennium of human history, let’s remember that a central message of Christmas is that God does indeed think about us, notwithstanding the skepticism of a Time magazine columnist. We can have confidence in this because of the incarnation reported to us in God’s Holy Word.

Let us join with the heavenly host in declaring: “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14). Amen.
Smith is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness newsjournal.

    About the Author

  • James A. Smith, Sr.