• David Defries

Christmas and Family

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home (Psalm 68:5-6a)

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Rom 8:15-17a)

It's almost Christmas. For many, this is a beautiful time, a wonderful time. It's time to spend with family, to celebrate, and to share gifts with each other. However, for others this is an awful time. A time that highlights their own loneliness, their broken families and relationships, and their poverty.

…and on top of it all, we have COVID to deal with. We're all grappling with how do we have a holiday that is primarily about socializing with our friends and family, while not being allowed to socialize with our friends and family. It's very easy to get discouraged when dealing with such ongoing adverse change to our lives. It's very normal for the constant ongoing drag of dealing with COVID, the fear and uncertainty, and the lack of social contact to wear us down and cast a mental and emotional fog over everything.

When feeling the effects of this, I always try to go back to the source, to the reason for Christmas. I know that it's cliché, but it doesn't make it any less true. We celebrate Christmas because of Jesus. Jesus came down, God reaching towards humanity to love and save them. God sent His own Son, Jesus, to pay for our sins and reconcile our relationship to God. God sent Jesus so that we can be made new, transformed from a life leading to death to a life completely redeemed. Jesus came so that we could become children of God, literally adopted into His family.

That's part of what the church is… family. That's who Christians are… God's kids. Not to some absentee or abusive father, but to a perfect, loving Father. A Father who leads us, guides us, cares for us, teaches us, and walks with us through whatever mess we find ourselves in. We don't ever need to lose hope, because we have a Dad who will take care of us and look out for us. We don't need to be discouraged. If you've messed things up or have broken relationships, God is faithful to pick us up, dust us off, teach us how to do things better (if we're willing to listen), and send us back out to clean it up. That's what a good Father does.

God's design from the beginning is that we would be in close, family-type relationship with Him. God wants to be near with you, but His desire is for you to want to be near to Him as well. You have the freedom to hold God at a distance if you want, but all that does is rob yourself of the intimacy, hope, joy, and peace of the relationship with a perfect Father. You can choose to be on your own, but you don't have to be. "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you" (James 4:8a) You see, God has given you provision to be in the family. If you have accepted Jesus, you're adopted in. It's that simple. The only limiting factor is ourselves and the decisions that we make.

So where do you find yourself this Christmas season? Are you feeling the weight of things dragging you down? Are you feeling deprived of relationship? You don't need to despair or be discouraged. You have access to the greatest family with the best Father there ever was. You're not alone. There is hope in this season because Jesus has come.

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