Remembering God’s Unfolding Plan This Christmas
By Vanessa Lee
This past month in our advent series, we’ve followed the people around the birth of Jesus: the ancestors, the prophets, John the Baptist and Mary. All these various angles of Jesus’ birth being foretold helpfully showed us that the very first Christmas was certainly not an isolated event, but one that was always part of a much bigger picture!
In our earlier sermon series on Ephesians, we got clear on what exactly that picture is–God’s epic plan to unite all things in Christ (Eph 1:10). Jesus will undisputedly be the head over the whole cosmos one day! All of history has been headed there, since before He was even conceived in the virgin’s womb, and continues on the same course till God’s plan is finally completed in the fullness of time! What fantastic news for sinful, broken humanity! For those of us who might perhaps be disappointed with the state of our world and find rejoicing rather difficult this season, take heart. Let Jesus’ first coming in the flesh remind you of how deeply invested God is into fulfilling His purposes, and hold fast to His good promises of a future world perfectly ruled by His Son.
With the cosmic realm in view, what Paul then says about how God’s plan advances amidst the attacks of Satan (Eph 6:11) might be rather surprising. He doesn’t attribute the advancement of God’s plan to heavenly beings, who will fight and prevail against Satan in the war. Rather, the character that takes centre stage, is the Church! It’s the Church, through whom God’s wisdom is made known to the cosmic authorities (3:10). It’s the Church, made up of ordinary, broken people like you and me, which will be filled with the fullness of God (3:19). It’s the Church, building itself up through speaking the truth in love (4:15), that provides the antidote against Satan’s evil darts of falsehood.
Even more remarkably, it is in the small, ordinary, unassuming things that the Church fulfils its mission. It’s in speaking kindly and forgiving others as a response to having been shown mercy ourselves. It’s in daily living distinctly from the world, exposing those in darkness to light, because we live as children of light. It’s in the love and submission of our household relationships, because that’s the pattern of Christ and His Body. All that we do and say, presents us with opportunities to proclaim the truth that Jesus will be the ultimate ruler of the cosmos, and it’s up to us to take them.
If this is all true, then this has to come to bear on our celebrations this Christmas. Do you see each interaction you have with loved ones as an exciting opportunity for you to display the truth of the gospel to them? Do you realise that the newcomer among us could see in our gathering a glimpse of that glorious future when all things will one day be under Christ’s headship? Do you see your time with your Church family at Christmas as neither mere formality nor festivity, but as a chance to build up the Body for the sake of God’s plan being fulfilled?
What you do and say this Christmas matters, perhaps more than you might think. As we look back on Christ’s birth, let us also look forward to His cosmic rule, and reflect this wonderful truth to those around us!