What it all boils down to is this: we've got our starting place wrong. We spend so much of our lives of faith trying to work our way to Christ, trying to come to the manger, that we lose sight of the fact that it is He who came to the manger for us. We spend our years doing exactly what the New Testament tells us it's more than time to stop doing, and it's no wonder that we're getting burnt out on our own religion - let alone that the world is.
There are these beautiful words in the Bible, and we read right past them too easily, but they're simply this: because He first loved us.
We love because He first loved us. We are redeemed because He first loved us. We are forgiven because He first loved us. Everything we are, everything we do, everything in which we live and move and have our being is because He first loved us.
And that must be our starting point.
We don't go to the manger because we want to see a baby in a manger; we go to the manger because there is a baby there to see in the first place. We don't carry our cross because we're building some kind of spiritual muscle; we carry our cross because He carried it first.
It's so easy for us to lose sight of this, to get so wrapped up in what we are doing that we forget what He has done. It's so easy for us to get into the doing and stop the being. It's so easy for us to make our faith about what we put into it instead of what called us and drew us to it in the first place, which is this amazing, incredible, indescribable love that showed up one day in a manger.
And listen, everyone said that can't be Him. Everyone said there was no way that's how God was going to do it. Everyone said it was silly. And then, it changed the world. It changed everything.
Or...it was supposed to.
So let us let it change us. Let us let this love become the foundation of everything we are. Not just everything we're doing, but everything we're being. Let us settle down into this love and stop trying to trace our way back to Him, but start instead with the fact that He made His way to us. Let's stop making a show to the world of us going to the manger and instead, quiet ourselves so that they can hear this baby cry, too.
I want everything I do to start in this love. I want my belovedness, the high price of His love for me, to be the first thing I think about when I think about...anything. I want to change my experience of this world and yes, this Jesus, so that it starts where the Bible has forever declared that it starts - with Him, not me. I want to take these words to heart and plant them in the depths of my soul so that His love is as natural to me as breathing, as palpable as the beating of my heart.
Because He first loved us.
Because He first loved me. Because He loved. Because God loved.
Join me, won't you? Let's put our faith back the way it's supposed to go - because of Him.