Hope in Imperfect Christmas Cards
Christmas is a time where people try and project an image of joy, happiness, peace, contentment, selflessness, and love. This can be clearly seen through the family Christmas card. You have most likely received at least one of these in the mail even if you haven’t taken one yourself and sent it. When you get the card in the mail, you typically are greeted to a family who seems well dressed, happy, coordinated, and put together. What you don’t typically see is the other pictures that were taken where the kids are fighting or screaming and the dog is peeing on someone’s leg. Those pictures don’t make the cut because they don’t project the right image.
As humans, we are very concerned with out image. We want to project the right things and look the right way. We want to seem confident, satisfied, and together. However, even if we don’t tell others, many times this isn’t the case on the inside. On the inside we might feel broken, like we’re falling apart, and like something is missing. The outward image we seek to project might be very different from the actual picture—just like a Christmas card.
Made in His Image
The truth we need to know this Christmas is that we are all made in God’s image. This makes humans distinct from everything else God created. Genesis 1:26-27 says:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
God goes on to say that this creation is very good. Being in God’s image means we visibly reflect His attributes, actions, and relations. For example, God is good so we should be good (attribute). God is just so we should seek justice (action). God is has perfect relationship within Himself in the trinity so we should seek meaningful relationships (relations). Each human has value because they are made in God’s image.
Our problem is that we are broken images. Instead of being that perfect Christmas card, we are the bloopers. This is because when Adam and Eve sinned, perfect images became corrupted. We are all sinners. Now instead of doing good, we know that no one does good (Romans 3:12). Instead of doing what God does, we seek to profit ourselves (Romans 3:10-11). Instead of of seeking meaningful, self-sacrificing relationships, we seek to use and abuse others for our gain (Romans 1:28-32). This image is certainly no longer very good.
The Perfect Christmas Card
This is why Jesus and Christmas are such good news! Jesus is the true and perfect Christmas card (if you could say it that way). Jesus is born of a virgin and enters into sinful humanity to be the perfect image that Adam, Eve, and us could not be. He perfectly images His Father’s attributes, activity, and relationships. Colossians 1:15 tells us, “He is the image of the invisible God…” In talking to one of His disciples, Jesus says of Himself in John 14:9, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
This should thrill our hearts as we celebrate Christmas! Theologically, we call this Jesus’ active obedience. What that means is that He came and lived perfectly imaging the Father. This is what God requires of every human, but we cannot fulfill His commands. When we’re saved, Jesus’ perfect obedience to God is credited to us. God sees His Son’s perfect image as our image just as He sees His Son’s punishment as our punishment.
Christmas was the beginning of this beautiful news! Because Jesus’ perfectly obeyed and imaged God in our place, we are free. We are free to joyfully seek to obey God knowing that when we mess up, we are forgiven and can keep going. We are free to realize that even though we don’t have it all together right now and we don’t really look like the Christmas cards we send, we have been given the Holy Spirit to help us. Even though we may not have those perfect movie Christmases, we celebrate Christmas and have true joy because Perfection came down to be the perfect image we couldn’t—and even now—He is making us new, more like Him, and one day when we are with Him, every day will be Christmas.