Have a Messy, Blessed Christmas

Christmas is a messy holiday. I didn’t say merry; I said messy. Think about it—it’s about a birth. Been to any birthing rooms lately? Well, Joseph’s and Mary’s was outdoors in a holed-out animal shelter. See what I mean? Messy!

But no wonder—Parenting is messy. So it’s fitting it starts that way on day one. Remember your first child’s birth! Whew, it was a rude awakening for yours truly!

And the messiness of children continues. And I don’t just mean logistically or physically. But emotionally. Psychologically. Spiritually. There’s no way around it—children are messy!

Yet, no real parent would trade the messiness of children for the cleanliness of loneliness. Why? Because it’s in the mess that we’re blessed! That’s right—the blessedness is in the messiness. For it’s when we get our hands dirty that we do more than eye a work of God. We experience it.

Recall the manger in the holed-out animal shelter? God coming to earth via the birth canal amid an audience of animals. No doubt that was a hands-on experience for Joseph and Mary. No doubt a blessed mess!

No other verse describes the blessedness of messiness better than John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Now that’s a messy verse! Literally, the language could read he “pitched his tent” among us. Not just near us. Not just by us. But among us. Right smack dab in the middle of us. Yeah, us—the liars, stealers, backbiters, lusters, enviers, haters, murderers, adulterers, rebellious, proud, complainers, lazy, and addicted—us! That’s where he landed. Pretty messy, huh? That’s Jesus!

But the arrival of the Blessed One among us messy ones is grand news! Why? He’s the only one who can do what needs to be done about the mess we’re in—save us from it! To be more precise, the sin that has separated us from God has been defeated by the One who came as a baby. His sacrificial and substitutionary death has satisfied the wrath of God against sin, and all who believe are no longer buried in condemnation, but blessed by justification. No wonder the news to the shepherds that night, even in the middle of herding messy sheep, and sung by a host of angels in the midnight sky, was “glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14). God had come to earth, in the middle of a mess no doubt, to actually do something about it—bless us!

So get your hands dirty this Christmas. Involve yourself in a mess for the sake of Christ and his gospel. Pitch your tent among those who have yet to see the real meaning of Christmas. Live incarnationally intentionally in the middle of a situation that desperately needs the grace of God seen and heard through a gospel-centered voice and life. Jesus did on the first one. And we’ve all been blessed ever since.

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