By Jane L. Fryar
Bae wanted Christmas dinner to come off without a hitch. She was hosting her family for the first time since getting her own apartment, and she took special care with every detail.
Bae searched the internet for hours to find just the right recipe for roast turkey. She anguished for hours on all her favorite foodie sites, looking for the perfect dessert. She festooned her table with red and green ribbons and added a tasteful centerpiece. She even made place cards to indicate who would sit where, and she rearranged the seating scheme several times to ensure everyone would have a fabulous experience.
Five minutes before her guests arrived, Bae emerged from her bedroom in her best hostess outfit, feeling fresh, if just a bit nervous. She took one last look around, admiring with satisfaction her new Christmas decorations. The tree. The garland. The candles she had been saving since she found them on sale last July. Her apartment looked beautiful!
But then, Bae gasped. One of the candles that stood on her table had somehow tumbled out of the centerpiece and onto her bright, linen tablecloth. Even before she picked it up, she could see the large cranberry-colored wax stain. Frantic, she looked for a way to move a plate or a goblet to cover the blotch. But a cover-up was impossible. Everyone was sure to see the stain.
Some stains are harder to hide than others, and some are impossible to hide. That doesn’t keep us from trying, though, does it? Especially at Christmastime, we may work even harder to disguise the disorder in our lives. We paste a cheerful smile on our faces to cover our worry. We overspend and overschedule to fill the emptiness of our hearts. We gloss over the hurt we have caused family and friends. We struggle to convince ourselves—and God—that our good intentions somehow make up for our disobedience. We are, after all, better behaved than . . . well, you fill in the blank.
But some stains are impossible to hide. The Bible says:
Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord God (Jeremiah 2:22 ESV).
The Bible uses several word pictures for sin. Stain is one of them. Darkness is another. No matter how we picture it, our guilt before God is always bad news—even at Christmastime. That’s why the psalmist prays:
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! (Psalm 51:2 ESV).
We cannot remove the stain of our guilt before God any more than Bae could remove the wax that spoiled her Christmas tablecloth. No matter how much elbow grease we apply, the stain of our sin remains. Our foolish hearts are darkened, just as the Bible testifies (Romans 1:21), and we have no way to turn on the light.
Our heavenly Father knew how hopeless our situation was. He knew the terrible consequences of our sin far more deeply than we can, far more deeply than we ever could:
God is light, and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5 ESV).
That’s why Jesus came into our sin-darkened world, the world God so loved. He came, in love, to dispel the darkness of our shame, to remove the stain of our guilt. He once described his mission this way:
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12 ESV).
Jesus entered our sin-darkened world on that first Christmas to bring us—to bring you—the light of life! He died in the darkness on Good Friday afternoon, carrying our shame—your shame—on his holy shoulders. Three days later, he rose from the dead, and his resurrection is proof positive that your guilt is gone! The stain is forever lifted!
From the manger, we see the light of life—love’s pure Light—shining in all its brilliance. Listen to one of the most comforting verses in all the New Testament:
We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14 ESV).
Have you seen that glory? Jesus is God’s gift, God’s Christmas gift. The tag has your name on it—not because you have tried hard, not because you are trying hard, not because you’ve met God halfway. No, it’s yours by his grace, simply through the faith he himself gives.
Remember that sin’s stain is gone, that love’s pure Light has shone into your darkness:
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV).
Let’s pray: How can we thank you for the most wonderful Christmas gift ever given, heavenly Father? Let our lives reflect the grace and glory of our Lord Jesus. In his name we pray. Amen.
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Editor’s note: Today’s entry is slightly adapted from the free Ministry Message to accompany the Love’s Pure Light line of products.