While entertaining, they are just myths used to teach lessons about human eminence. But ultimately, these myths are about the impossible.
Christianity, however, has a completely different story: the Christmas story. Our story is about God becoming man, the reverse of myths. Jesus, who is God, took on human form, came as a child, was born to a poor couple, and lived on earth among us. The Lord became a servant and the Creator stepped into His creation. Our great and glorious God came to us as a baby in a lowly manger. The beautiful and compelling truth of Christmas is that Jesus came.
That's a fair question, right? Why would the God of the universe come to earth? Jesus reveals the answer when He is talking to Zacchaeus in Luke 19:10. He says that He “came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus came to earth on a mission. Or perhaps more accurately Jesus came to earth to fulfill God's mission.
Christmas is, at its very heart, about a God who is on mission to rescue people. Moreover, He does so at a great cost. God sent His one and only Son to live among people as a person. The Christmas story reveals the truth that God was (and still is) on a mission and His mission is to come to rescue humankind from sin and death.
Now, it’s not mind-blowing that God has a mission. But what will fry your noodle is really thinking about how God decided to accomplish His mission.
God, Immanuel, came to be present with us. He came in person and on purpose.
Now, what does that truth mean practically in our lives? After His resurrection, Jesus challenges His disciples: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21 ESV). Jesus is sending His disciples, and sending us, on a mission as well. He wants us to go, just like He came.
What does this mean for us and for our students? How are we to challenge our students to be sent like Jesus was sent? The Christmas story reveals two ways: in person and on purpose.
First, we should challenge and equip our students to go in person. God sent Jesus in person, “in the flesh.” So likewise, we should go in person. Help your students make personal contact with their neighbors. Don't just send money, serve people. Challenge students to grow in their understanding of their friends’ lives. Be present with others. We must never forget that Christ came in person at Christmas, and this Christmas He is sending us in person to others. Use this time of year to encourage your students to make personal contact with people who are far from God.
Secondly, we should challenge our students to go on purpose. Jesus came on mission with a very clear purpose. Everything from His birth to His death and resurrection was on purpose. We have to help students intentionally make plans to reach out to their neighbors. Help them see that floating from Christmas party to Christmas party isn’t enough. Instead, help them intentionally think of ways to make Jesus famous during the holiday season. Encourage them to pull make a plan as to how they will intentionally use Christmas to reach out to others.
Is this radically different from the way our culture engages in the Christmas season? It definitely is. It's so different people just might notice there is a beautiful truth underneath all the wrapping paper, stockings, tinsel, and evergreens.
Jesus came to earth. In person. With purpose.