By Michael C. Mack
Editors probably shouldn’t have a “favorite” issue. After all, I think every issue of Christian Standard has incredibly well-written stories. However . . . I really love this one! Perhaps it’s because the Christmas season brings out so many sentimental memories for me. Or maybe it’s because this issue has lots of awe-inspiring stories about family. Dave Stone, Kyle Idleman, and Rusty Russell tell stories of how their parents blessed them and their ministries. Joe Harvey shares how he and Val have blessed their daughter Mandy, and how she in turn is blessing them. We have stories of grandparents blessing their grandchildren and even one about not receiving the blessing.
And while a major theme of this issue is “family blessings,” underneath that motif is something I think is even more significant. As I edited this month’s articles, I was repeatedly touched by our writers’ vulnerability and the authenticity of the subjects they write about. I think you’ll appreciate these real stories of real faith.
And that’s one of the things I love about the Christmas story. As Bob Russell reminds us this month, the narratives of Jesus’ birth are real. If you have trouble believing the Christmas accounts, says Russell, perhaps “your concept of God is too small.”
The gospel accounts of the incarnation—God’s physical entrance as a baby into this world—describe something that was busy, messy, smelly, dirty . . . real. While I love singing traditional Christmas hymns, the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth were far from being a “silent night” where all was “calm.” The Perfect One was brought into a dark world in a busy city through sketchy circumstances by imperfect people. That’s where the Light of the World entered in to transform everything.
I’ve always related to that story. Maybe you can too. Jesus came into my messy, sin-darkened, hectic world in the same manner. He entered my life and transformed everything—and still does. The Christmas story is my story and your story.
This time of the year is not about Santa or sentimentality, or about worshipping Christmases past, but living in the present reality that Jesus Christ is still Immanuel—God with us.
This Christmas, let’s celebrate the birth of Christ, but let’s move beyond the historical Jesus of 2,000 years ago. As vital as that is to our faith, let’s focus on the living Christ who is still with us and will continue to be with us as we live for his mission until the end of the age. He’s more than the reason for this season. Let’s not forget that someday, the same One who was born a child in Bethlehem will return to this messy world as our victorious King, with both power and peace.
And that truly will be a blessing.