No Less Miraculous than a Virgin Birth…

“Merry Christmas!” to anyone who might actually read this entry the same day it was posted. I’ve only recently been asked to post to ESI, so writing something for Christmas Day feels like a huge honor to me…still not quite sure how that happened.

My husband wrote this past Monday (Dec. 21) on how critical it is that Christians accept the truth of the virgin birth, and the importance of understanding and believing what God says about how He chose to incarnate Himself for us. I know that some people struggle to believe in a virgin birth, and many unbelievers flat-out refuse to believe in the resurrection (let alone its significance). Naturalistic thinking makes it very hard to believe in that which we cannot duplicate or see with our own eyes. Yet that is the very definition of faith (Hebrews 11:1).

But as I meditate this morning on all the things that God has done for us, on the very day we celebrate Christ’s coming into our space and time, it occurs to me that everything about my own Christian walk falls into exactly the same basket as the blessed birth of Christ by a virgin, Mary. Simply stated, it’s a miracle that anything good comes out of me, ever. In some ways, it’s actually easier to accept the doctrine of the virgin birth than it is to explain why anyone ever does anything self-sacrificial.

Nothing I do is by my own strength or wit, but by God’s grace. The Bible clearly teaches that no good lives in me (Romans 3:10-18, Romans 7:18), and the more God gives me eyes to see myself as I really am, the more I see this truth play out in my everyday life. Sin has so stained everything about me that nothing I say, think or do is pure; there are selfish motives behind everything I do – every single thing! Even when I fight it, I can’t entirely eradicate my self-focus. I simply cannot completely overcome my sinful self.

But God can, and does.

Absent God’s grace and presence within me, I will put myself ahead of others every time. We all do; even when serving others, our needs are being met. Our need for others to think well of us, or our need for affirmation. Our pride never sleeps, and it is fueled by the compliments we receive for our “selfless” acts. Somehow, even in our acts of service, we can manage to find a way to put ourselves first. This is why the Bible says that all of our acts of obedience are as filthy rags before the Lord (Isaiah 64:6).

Thank God that in His great mercy He does not leave us in this sorry state! When the Holy Spirit is at work, our hearts are changed (Phil. 2:13) and a spirit of true, selfless love develops.

Where there was no selflessness, there suddenly…is.

A genuine desire to serve others is (somehow) “created” within me…from nothing. Relentless self-interest transformed by an all-powerful God into something decidedly “not me.” How is this any less miraculous than a virgin birth?

In the coming year, my prayer – for myself and for all my Christian brothers and sisters – is for the work of the Holy Spirit to continue within us as we slog through the everyday, mundane little moments of life, that God’s work within us will take on a greater significance, unhindered by my own desire to throw up roadblocks of self-interest. It’s my prayer that God’s work in our lives, the big and the small, would more and more be seen as the truly miraculous events that they are.

Absent God’s touch, creating life where there is only death, we Christians would not be who and what we are today, even in our still-flawed, imperfect state. Praise God that He who created the heavens and numbered the stars, naming each one (Psalm 147:4), He who brought water from a rock (Exodus 17:5-6), He who conceived a child within a virgin womb (Luke 1:26-37), also brings life where previously there was no life (Romans 8:10-11, Ephesians 2:5).

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