The birth of human worth, bringing meaning to our lives
By Rev. Bill Baldwin
Christmas has different meanings to different people.
The most common importance of Christmas is the coming of God to earth in human form to be our Savior and save us from our sins.
The assumption is that, because of Adam and Eve messing things up in the garden of Eden, everyone after them is stained with a sin so permanent that we are unacceptable to God and therefore condemned to eternal damnation.
The birth of Jesus means that God has created a way for us to be saved from damnation and reunited with God in heaven for eternity. While it is nice that we have a way to escape God's punishment, it has left many people with a feeling that there is nothing good about being who God created us to be.
There is another very important way to look at Christmas that we need to think about a lot more. Christmas is the birth of human worth.
Before Jesus, people weren't thought of as individuals who mattered simply because they existed. There were the rich and privileged and there were all the rest, the undifferentiated masses. No person really mattered very much.
Jesus changed all that, from His very birth onward. God coming to earth in the humble circumstances of a stable in a small town tells us that God was not concerned about promoting power and privilege. God was immediately aligned with the poor and ordinary by virtue of how Jesus was born.
In his lifetime, Jesus spent his time with the outcasts and misfits of the world. He didn't say they had to change before He found them acceptable. Jesus encouraged people to change by the very fact that He accepted them as they were when no one else did.
Jesus accepted women, who were marginal citizens at that time. Women were basically the property of their men. Women didn't have rights, and were certainly not looked upon as equals. Jesus treated women as equals and friends. He treated women as equal partners in the work he was doing for the kingdom of God.
With the birth of Jesus came the idea that God loves every person individually. He spoke of how God knew of every hair on our head, and of the needs of every bird of the field.
God came from being very far away, to being as close as our breath. God loves us so much that God became one of us. The presence of Jesus with us is a reminder that we have worth in the eyes of God, not because of anything we have done or left undone, but because God made us.
Rather than coming to threaten us with condemnation if we didn't accept him, Jesus came to remind us that we are precious beyond measure. Jesus helps us to see the worth we have that we couldn't see on our own.
I hope that at least one person reading this message is someone who has been beaten down by life.
I want you to know from personal experience that there are others who are living with horrible experiences in the past, and who are learning to believe that God never had anything to do with the bad experiences we had.
You may feel unworthy, unlovable, rejected, abused, misused, powerless or misunderstood. Experiences in life may have left you doubting yourself and doubting that anything will ever go right in your life. Don't give up. Jesus loves us.
He was born to be there for people like us who have experienced pain and rejection and heartbreaking disappointment. He was born, and died, and rose from the dead, to assure us that we are not bound forever to our pain.
He was born to remind us that our worth is not determined by how we are treated or mistreated by others. We are precious and deeply loved no matter what we have endured.
No matter what you have done or how unworthy you feel, God loves you with an infinite love. Jesus reminds us that we can rise from the ashes of our pain and go on to have a beautiful life beyond the hurting.
You are of infinite worth. Remember that and hang on with everything in you to that truth. God would never condemn you for the life you have had to live. On the contrary, God loves you. That is why God came to earth as Jesus Christ.
Because of free will, God doesn't stop evil things from happening, but God is there with you in the midst of all human anguish. God carries you through the deepest pain and desires to raise you up again to experience the joy and abundance of life.
Rather than looking at the promise as heaven as the reward of salvation for your faith in Jesus as savior, think of heaven as the place where you will be free from the pain and injustice that you experience on earth.
By the way, for those of you who hurt other people and live as if you are getting away with you abuse, think again. The only way to offend God and be excluded from the glories of heaven is to do harm to God's precious creation.
When we do harm to others we are doing harm to God. God can forgive those who do harm and are sincerely sorry and repentant, but to those who remain unrepentant for the harm they cause, eternity will not be much fun.
My greatest hope is that you never have to endure suffering of any kind at the hands of another human being. But if you do, have courage. Think of all of us who have been deeply wounded and are courageously rebuilding our lives and trusting God to heal us.
You are not alone. You are loved beyond comprehension by the creator of the world. This is the good news, that God does not leave us in our anguish, but desires that we will cling to life and fight to reclaim what others attempted to take away from us.
Wishing you health and wholeness in the new year. Peace.
Howard Lake-Waverly Herald & Winsted-Lester Prairie