New Castle News

December 19, 2013

Tim Kolodziej: What is the true meaning of Christmas? Here’s my story ...

Tim Kolodziej
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — “Merry Christmas.”

Two simple words.

No simple answers.

Ask 100 people for the “true meaning of Christmas,” and you just might get 100 different responses.

•Peace on Earth.

•Shopping at the mall.

•Placing a bow on a new Lexus and surprising my wife.

•The Polar bears in the Coca-Cola commercials.

•Santa Claus.

•Finding the perfect tree.

•Going to Jared. Or every kiss begins with K.

•Pulling out the TSO, Bing Crosby and Michael Bublé CDs.

•Hustle. Bustle. Stress.

•A warm fireplace, a classic holiday movie and a cup of hot cocoa.

•Showing kindness and respect for others.

•Miracles that don’t happen any other time of year.

•Coming home for the holidays.

•Going out to meet the needs of the lonely.

See what I mean?

Two simple words.

No simple answers.



So, which is the TRUE meaning of Christmas?

It depends on who you ask.

Today, I can only share what I believe.

I am a Christian.

I say that as humbly and respectfully as I can.

I am a follower of Christ. I believe his story. I trust in him. And I share that with anyone willing to listen.

Just like when we see a great movie. Or have a juicy steak. Or catch a four OT game. We just HAVE to tell someone about it.

So forgive me for being so forward. I hope to come off today as loving and kind and winsome.

That is my heart as I write this blog.

So, here goes. Here is my definition of the true meaning of Christmas. This is why I celebrate each year.

And I can’t help but share this good news with you.



“I have come ...”



Who is this Jesus that you Christians believe was born on Christmas Day?

He is the son of God. Born of a virgin teen who, in today’s culture would be in the eighth- or ninth-grade. He came to Earth with all the attributes of God in a human baby’s body. So Mary had to feed him, burp him, change his diaper and make sure he went down for a nap each day.

He was a baby, just like you and I once were.



Why did Jesus come to Earth as a baby?

Because all humans are born with a “sin virus” we inherited from Adam. We could never live up to God’s perfect standards, so we needed someone to be perfect in our place. So, from the day of his birth to the time of his death 33 years later, Jesus never sinned. And he always obeyed.

It was a full, perfect life filled with experiences and emotions all of us face.

For all who believe that Jesus is the savior of the world, we are credited with HIS perfect record in God’s eyes.

So, for example:

•Since Jesus never whacked his sister on the head in anger, I didn’t either. (Um, at least in God’s eyes.)

•Since Jesus never cheated on a test, I didn’t either. (I know, Mrs. Bradley. But in God’s eyes I never did.)

•Since Jesus never thought of jacking anyone up or stealing from his neighbor or — you name it, anything sinful — my record is spotless, too.

That’s not to say Jesus was sheltered. He was tempted in every way, just like you and me, but never sinned. Even the devil himself couldn’t get him off his mission to save mankind.

How cool of a Christmas gift is that?



So you Christians believe you are perfect, right?

Haha! Heavens no! Just ask my wife. I am FAR from perfect. That’s why I am so grateful to have a savior.

As I mentioned a bit earlier, Jesus was perfect in my place but I get credit for it.

Let me repeat that sounding joy — Jesus was perfect, but I GET THE CREDIT.

Crazy, right? But that’s what God promises us.

So if you run into any of us who point fingers at you or act like WE’VE got it altogether, that’s not Christianity. Please don’t follow them. I would be offended by that, too. I could never keep up with that lifestyle and I don’t even want to try.

No, what I’m talking about is grace and mercy. I DON’T get what I truly deserve. And I DO get what I don’t deserve.

I don’t have to strive for perfection to somehow reach up to God.

Instead, he came down to rescue me.

That’s the good news of Christmas.



“... that they may have life ...”



So how are Christians different from others?

We aren’t, really. We go to school, get married, work in a variety of fields, play sports, watch movies and gather for parties.

We’re rich, poor and everything in-between. Our cars break down, our children get sick, we get laid off and our bodies get older just like everyone else.

But we are different in one key area: We now have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Our prayers are now conversations. We no longer live in fear of being punished, but to please the One who loves us.

We now view ourselves as ambassadors for God. We are now His Hands and feet in the world. Our jobs, our families, our money and our time now belong to him. We now live for His glory and fame, not to become some sort of stars ourselves.

It’s strange, but the closer we become to God the more often we are reminded of how imperfect we are as human beings. And that makes us even more grateful because Jesus has taken away all of our shame, guilt and insecurity. It was nailed to the cross with him when he was crucified. And all of that garbage was buried afterward.

I love how author Derwin Gray puts it: Jesus became what God hates most — sin — so we could become what God loves most: his children.

Does that make sense to you?

I really, really hope so.



“... and have it to the full.”



OK, what you’re saying sounds pretty interesting. But you still haven’t shared the true meaning of Christmas?

Oh, right. Sorry. I get pretty passionate and get off track sometimes. Here you go, as simply as I can state it.

Ready?

•Jesus was born on Christmas Day to a virgin teen, in a dirty stable next to animals.

•Even though he arrived in a human body, he was fully God.

•He came to Earth as a human to experience everything we do so he could truly sympathize with us and relate to us.

•He lived a perfect, sinless life as a substitute for us, who never could.

•Later on, He died a horrible death as a sacrifice to God on our behalf.

•These days, he continues to love and pursue human beings, inviting us to join his family and live out our true purpose on Earth.

•And — get this — to make it even easier for us, HE comes to live the Christian life inside of us. Our role is simply to let him.

That’s why we sing songs of great joy. That’s why we gather and celebrate. That’s why we worship and praise.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” — John 10:10

And THAT, my friends, is the true meaning of the holiday.

So if you see me on the street and I wish you a hearty “Merry Christmas,” please don’t take offense.

I just can’t contain myself.

Now you understand why.