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The Christmas Cross

Some aspects of Christmas disclose themselves covertly: the Christ Child, a tiny babe, was also Mankind’s Savior and continues to be our Personal Defender.

You see, justice precedes love in God’s saving scheme and we must see this. Justice and judgment must factor in or we lose realness. Without grounds for judicial release in its objects, love does not have much meaning.

Moses, in Exodus 15, led Israel three days without water towards Mara. The waters there were bitter and the people shrieked. Who could blame them? Was there a meaning? Moses begged for an answer from God, crying with his body prostrated. God showed him a tree and Moses threw the tree into the waters. The waters were made sweet.

The first thought is this: God, using God’s man, lead his people. They hated, however, the bluntness of the circumstance. The second thought is that God wanted to demonstrate justice and truth, so he judged the bitter waters. This was a picture of the bitterness of sin. (Note: He did not judge the people, but the water; it was made sweet miraculously. How? By adding the God-provided tree, bitter waters became sweet!)

This is God’s secret at Christmas. He must judge evil and He does it before our eyes.

Frankly, we need to see justice operate on our behalf. Jesus came for this too.  We inwardly cry out for justice. We have been victimized by a wound with sin-propensity. This causes us so much pain and anguish. We secretly say “Does God recognize my dreadful condition? Does He have any clue as to what earth’s hell means?”

Oh yeah, He does. See, the meaning of bitter waters made sweet goes way deeper. We need to know if God will see our injustice (even perceived injustice) and do something. Will He help me? Will He condemn me? Will He deliver me out of it or leave me to figure it out for myself? Is my malignancy as despicable to God as it appears in my own evaluation? The question is asked, “Will He take my bitter secret and turn it into the sweetness of honey for me?”

Christmas had to happen or mankind would have waxed no better than before. We cry and does anybody hear? We wait but does a rescuer come? We wince but is there any succor? Well, I submit to you that The Christ Child has come. He has arrived at last and he has had enough of pain and of sin’s reign. He has come to isolate the cancer of sin from us and remove it from our identity’s perception.

He has come to expose the accusing work of Satan and to destroy it. He has succeeded. He has come to demonstrate, right in front of you and me, that we are not the one being judged. The sin-principle and Satan–yes, both diabolical influences– incur the wrath of this Epiphany. Piercing the darkness, Christ appeared to “save His people from their sin.”

Friends, this Christmas, don’t buy the age-old bill of goods that you alone are the big problem, the loser or the fool. Open your heart to see, this year, the purity of God’s emancipating rescue.  He understands you and me. He loves us so much that He came for us! God, our Hero; Jesus, our Savior; and the precious Holy Spirit can turn any darkened area into uninhibited light and into life which is unending.

Lastly, in our real world, waters may spew acridity. A last hope turns sour or a last friend dies. Two propositions manifest on the table of our heart; one is a familiar–God hates and is judging me, wretch that I am. He is leaving me to hide in my misery. I am not interested in knowing this kind of God right now.

The other offer goes this way: God cares and has arrived to sedate all that hurts. He can fix my “guilt-shame” consciousness and will vindicate my right one more time. This is because justice and love have already fixed everything at the very root of my little world, destroying my foes forever. The choice remains with us as it did with the children of Israel in the desert. It’s just a choice!  Merry Christmas! Love Ya

Tom Sliva

Tom Sliva

Born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Pastor Sliva went to Bible college in Massachusetts at the Stevens School of the Bible in !982. He and his family moved to Baltimore in1987 to be a part of Greater Grace World Outreach. From there, he served in Prescott, Arizona, and Indianapolis, Ind. Ordained upon his return to Baltimore in 1995, Pastor Sliva was afflicted with brain cysts in the late 90's and stayed at home base until his recovery in 2002. He then assisted with ministries in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh before resettling in Baltimore due to his son's sudden illness and death. Pastor Sliva is a colon cancer survivor. He has been part of the Pastoral Care Team since 2008 and leads the Grief Share group at Greater Grace Church. Read more from Pastor Sliva on his blog Healing at the Cross.
Tom Sliva

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