We go to great lengths to present our best selves in the hope that others will affirm our value, our identity, our existence. We do not dare present ourselves as we are. Our hearts remind us that we are unacceptable as we are. Deep inside, we know the truth about ourselves. We know “our best selves” are only caricatures of who He created us to be. We glorify “our best selves” instead of the One that created us. We present nice outward appearances to hide our dirty internal poverty. Our hearts shout the truth: we long to be loved and accepted as we are… even while knowing we are unacceptable.

Jesus arrived in a most unacceptable manner (born of a virgin), laid in an unacceptable place (a manger), born to a family from an unacceptable town (Nazareth), as an unacceptable king (a baby), first worshiped by unacceptable people (shepherds), and personally delivered an unacceptable message (“our best selves” are not enough, we need a savior). Jesus healed the unacceptable, dined with the unacceptable, loved the unacceptable, saved the unacceptable, and embraced the unacceptable.

Jesus is the demonstration of the Father’s great love for us. He stands in stark contrast to humanity’s definition of what is acceptable. And if we don’t see that truth in His birth, and in His life, we see it again with the vivid and disturbing story of His death.

Humanity declared Jesus unacceptable. And we killed Him.

God knows we are unacceptable. And He saves us.

We kill, He gives life.

We sin, He forgives.

We hate, He loves.

We destroy, He renews.

We corrupt, He purifies.

We die, He resurrects.

My, we are an unacceptable lot.

At Christmas I am again reminded of my need for a savior. A savior with power to redeem, to heal, to counsel, to clean, to absolve, to purify, to lead, to protect, to love unconditionally, to accept us as we are.

In a spectacularly unacceptable manner, God stepped in to save us.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

Jesus still accepts the unacceptable. Unconditionally.

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