Monday, December 8, 2014

Tree Trimmings #7: Joy

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people."
Luke 2:10

When you read the Bible and examine God's immediate impact on people, you don't get the idea that He'd do well as a party host.  He's probably not "gifted" to be on your church's hospitality committee.  Of course God is great and of course God is good... but seriously, drawing a crowd and keeping people smiling doesn't seem like something He does very well.

When Adam and Eve heard Him coming, they preferred to run from rather than run to Him (Genesis 3:8-10).  When the Lord appeared to Abraham to confirm His promise, the Bible tells us that a "thick and dreadful darkness" overcame Abram (Genesis 15:12).  At the mere voice of God, a nation redeemed and rescued and by Him trembled in fear--even while they stood at a distance (Exodus 20:18).  Time and space in this single post would not permit to speak of theophanies, visions, and other encounters between God and men.  Fortunately, John Calvin summed up the history quite well with this one quotation:

"Hence that dread and amazement with which as scripture uniformly relates holy men were struck and overwhelmed whenever they beheld the presence of God... quaking with terror that the fear of death takes hold of them... men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God."  --Institutes of the Christian Religion

So we can see that the problem is not God, but we ourselves.  It is our sin that informs and supplies ample reason for our fear.  The first Adam, after he had transgressed, knew God as the Interrogator/ Inspector.  Which is why we are amazed that God came as the Second Adam as Intermediary and Intercessor.  Christ came to remove, once for all, the only thing that legitimately kept us from enJOYing God: our sins.  The human birth of God's divine Son marks the march of God's grace to overcome our sin.

Let this Christmas season be a time where believers rejoice removal of the sin's penalty--the justification Christ arranged for via the Cross.  Let this Christmas season be a time where believers are determined to walk in sanctification so that we do not give way to sin that persists in our lives.  Let this Christmas season be a time for us to glory in the hope of our future glorification through Christ.  For certainly, in light of a removal from the presence of sin, we will know God in His fullness and know for ourselves that "in His presence there is fullness of joy" (Psalm 16:11).

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