by Maria Johnson
Just the Right Amount of Jesus
“The reason for the season” is a marketing success story. It’s an effective sound bite for
|The birth of Jesus changes a life|
I realize the heart behind the message is sincere. I’m saying the exact same thing when I encourage people to look to God’s Word for hope in mental illness.
But we humans are flawed, and we have taken this valid encouragement and turned it into yet another requirement for doing Christmas “the right way.” For those of us with anxiety issues, this can be yet another trigger during the holidays.
What I try to do is think about what God did outside of the popular nativity story in Luke (Luke 2:1-20). And I specifically try to think about not just what God did, but how what God did has changed my life.
God Became a Man
|The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.|
God has always wanted a relationship with man. But once man sinned, we were cut off from Him because He is so holy.
He knew all along that we couldn’t make it all the way to Him. So He came to us. He came to me.
John 1:14 – “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
There have been many times when I didn’t have the strength to do one more thing to be a “better Christian.” I was in the pit of depression and saw no hope of ever getting out.
Jesus came to me.
The baby born in that manger, the one immortalized in plastic on so many front lawns, grew up and offered me compassion.
Matthew 11:28 - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
When Jesus was born a human child, He brought God to the earth to meet me where I was.
Jesus Cleared a Path to God
|Jesus cleared a path to the heart of God.|
When God designed the tabernacle in the wilderness, two curtains separated the mercy seat, where God’s presence was, from the people. The first curtain led into the holy place, where only the priests could come.
Hebrews 9:3,7 – “Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place … But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.”
God had made a way to be in the midst of His people, but He still had to keep His distance because our sin could not exist in His holy presence.
When Jesus died on the cross and paid the price for our sins, that distance was no longer necessary.
Mark 15:37-38 – “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”
I don’t have to go through a priest to get to God. I don’t have to complete a checklist of tasks perfectly just to be able to talk with Him. The only requirement now is accepting His sacrifice and His Lordship.
Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem provided hope that I could come into God’s presence.
Peace On Earth
Jesus didn’t come to earth to remove conflict. He couldn’t do that without removing free will. In the end, He will remove conflict, and those of us who used our free will to choose Him, will enjoy that eternal peace.
I have to be honest, though. The hope of eternal peace in the sweet by and by offers little comfort when I’m trapped by insomnia and all my worst fears are ravaging what little sanity I have left.
It’s then I have to remember that Jesus didn’t just come to set up a retirement plan.
What He brought instead, was a way to find peace in spite of conflict – whether that conflict is internal or external.
John 16:33 - “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
When Jesus was born into the chaos of a stable, peace was born. That’s not just a baby in that nativity painting; it’s peace.
When I remind myself that I’m celebrating the birth of peace, it’s easier to let go of the need to “get Christmas right.” I can look back in thanks that He came, but then live my life today filled with all the benefits of why He came.
How is today better for you as a result of Jesus being born? Join the conversation.
Maria spent most of her life focused on the theatre, while also dealing with depression and bipolar disorder. Through Celebrate Recovery, she has come to a place of stability and peace and is now serving as a mental health advocate. Recently, God called her to focus on writing as her main priority and she started a Bible study blog, God’s Word for Mental Health.
She lives in Covington, GA with her husband, son, dog, and cat. A proud geek, she enjoys fantasy and sci-fi stories, super hero movies, and spreadsheets.