Whatever gifts we may have waiting for us under the tree this Christmas, they pale in comparison to the Gift that came from Heaven 2,000 years ago. When the sky lit up with angels joyously proclaiming that Salvation had come, they were announcing not only deliverance through the Messiah, but all that would accompany the great salvation of mankind. Jesus did not come to merely rescue us from our sin, but to impart unto us His very life and all the renewing power of it. Ephesians chapter 1 tells us that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ. Those blessings include, not only salvation, but forgiveness, restoration and healing. There is one woman in the Bible in particular that comes to my mind when I think of restoration. Her name was Rahab.
Rahab was a prostitute in the city of Jericho and offered herself to one man after another. Giving herself to one sexual partner after the next had long since scarred her heart and her body. I'm sure she felt cheap and unimportant. Like most all women who work in prostitution, she tried to detach herself from her emotions, becoming immune to the pain of being used and left alone after her work was done, but deep down she was no doubt hurting and lost in a world that demanded from her all that was precious and sacred. Years of paganism had taken their toll and she could no longer find any comfort or peace in the gods of her people. I'm sure she had dreams of being cherished by one man and having a family. I doubt that she grew up aspiring to be a woman wanted only for her sexuality.
You can find the story in the book of Joshua. One day, she heard talk and whisperings amongst the people of the city. The Israelites worshipped a God that, rumor had it, opened up the waters of the Red Sea. He had plagued the Egyptians with frogs, lice, boils, darkness, and all manner of terrors and pestilence. Their God, Jehovah, had led His people out of captivity and had given them freedom from their oppressors. That is the kind of God that she wanted.
When Rahab encountered the Transformer of lives, she was changed. Love changed her. Through her belief and faith in Jehovah God, she experienced forgiveness and victory. She forsook her pagan religion, she left her sexual sin, and she placed her life into the hands of the Lord and said, "The Lord God, He is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath."
Many Christians live in condemnation due to their past sins. Some have ran to God in repentance and have asked for His forgiveness, yet they carry regret and walk through life as if they are on lifelong probation. Some are even convinced that they will receive lesser blessings because of their mistakes.
Does God work that way? No, He does not. Does God forgive reluctantly? No, He does not.
The same grace that saves is the same grace that heals. The same love that delivers is what makes all things new and pure. Pure? you say. In this world, how could I possibly be pure?
There are two different kinds of purity.
First, there is the clean, or innocent type. This is something that has never been contaminated by filth, but has been preserved and protected against all that is unclean.
The second kind of purity is the washed kind. This speaks of something that once was dirty and polluted, but has been made clean. Though some may fall into the first category physically, we all fall into the second spiritually.
Every person—young and old—is very similar to Rahab. Maybe we have not been unfaithful to our current or future spouse, but we are each guilty of being unfaithful to our Heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Rahab was like many of us who search for love in all the wrong places, accepting the culture instead of the Creator. Having experienced the pain of sexual sin, Rahab was given forgiveness, freedom, and a new life. You see, God-scripted stories are not for those who have never sinned or compromised or made mistakes. Jesus did not come for the hypocritical Pharisees, but for the sinners.
His love is so magnificent that He offers restoration to all who come to Him with a spirit of humbleness and repentance.
The purpose of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was to wash us clean from all our sin and exchange our broken lives for His. Rahab built a firm foundation under her feet instead of standing on the sinking mud of her culture. She became one of the few women mentioned in the famous “Hall of Faith” chapter found in Hebrews 11 and was chosen and placed in the ancestry of Jesus Christ Himself.
That same healing, redemptive love is offered to everyone. Anyone. No matter what we have done or where we have been, the gift from God that came down at Christmas has the power to transform our life and make us pure and right before Him in love. Through His redeeming grace, He can not only wash us clean, but also give us His very own power to live and walk in newness and wholeness from that moment on. This is done only by His strength working in us (1 Corinthians 12:9).
The purpose of Christmas? God and sinners reconciled.
May you rejoice in this beautiful truth.