By Matt Gordon
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me. - Exodus 20:5
You may think I’m just trying to be the first person ever to smuggle Exodus 20:5 into an advent devotional. Well, yes. It had crossed my mind to be a trailblazer.
But more so than zigging where the normal swaddling-clothe-verses zag, it is important to consider this: God wants you to celebrate Christmas. He wants you to delight in his provision, his plan, and his providential goodness to us in Christ. God is jealous for you. Not in some way where I am envious of my neighbor’s Christmas lights—and the fact that he has professionals do them for him. No, God’s jealousy is deeper and truer than that. He is jealous in a twofold way.
First, he is jealous because he deserves all the glory on earth. The earth is his—it is all his idea. He has created it, he has won it back, and he will renew it. Therefore, any glory that goes this Christmas season to Hallmark movies or presents or my neighbor’s perfect Christmas lights are cosmic robbery of glory that belongs solely to God. We can enjoy those things because of God, not in place of God.
Second, God is jealous because he is love. We love Him because he first loved us. That love spills into creation generally, but also, specifically, it spills into us coming to being—you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Formed by God. Known by God. Redeemed by God. Loved by God. And with all that in play, he desires us to give him the glory because that is what we are made for—we are form-fitted to feel utmost joy when we give him utmost praise and worship and acknowledgment and love.
Both of those realities come to life in the birth of Christ. A loving God gives a precious gift to his beloved children. That gift sits there before us—an invite to open, a package to unwrap; a joy to celebrate, a hope to overflow.
God wants us to celebrate Jesus deeply this Christmas, for in that joyful, hopeful procession, the cosmic order is restored, we are renewed, and God is glorified.