When I was a missionary in Romania, I remember the spontaneous prayer times we would have during the Christmas season. Romanian believers often prayed this line: “Be born in us, Lord, this Christmas!” It was a cry that expressed the desire for the gospel to reawaken our hearts to the beauty of what God has done for us in Christ. It was also a recognition that we shouldn’t let the season of celebrating Christ’s birth slip by without asking God to continue to do a work in our lives.
Why was Jesus born? The hymnist Charles Wesley put it this way: ”Born that man no more may die” (“Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”).
Jesus was born to put an end to death in two senses. There’s the physical death that we undergo when our life on earth comes to an end. And then there’s the spiritual death that those who do not worship Christ will undergo after they die physically. Jesus’ first coming is about putting an end to that spiritual death. He is born physically so that we don’t have to die spiritually.
But notice what Wesley wrote next: “Born to raise the sons of earth.” Jesus came and will come again, not only to rescue us from spiritual death but also to resurrect us from physical death. We await resurrection.
The hope that Jesus gives us is not just a future after death, a heavenly afterlife. It is alife after the afterlife, a physical world where we who were physically dead will be raised to new life.
Jesus was born in order to give us second birth, to provide the way for us to be born again. This refers to our conversion, our salvation. The Christian has been born again through repentance and faith and the powerful work of the Holy Spirit.
How does the reality of “spiritual birth” help you understand your task as a missionary for the kingdom of God?
What are the signs in your life that you have been born again?
What are you praying that God might do in your life during this holiday season?
- from one of the devotionals I contributed to The Gospel Project Christmas