7 So welcome each other, in the same way that Christ also welcomed you, for God’s glory. 8 I’m saying that Christ became a servant of those who are circumcised for the sake of God’s truth, in order to confirm the promises given to the ancestors, 9 and so that the Gentiles could glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
Because of this I will confess you among the Gentiles, and I will sing praises to your name.
10 And again, it says, Rejoice, Gentiles, with his people.
11 And again, Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and all the people should sing his praises.
12 And again, Isaiah says, There will be a root of Jesse, who will also rise to rule the Gentiles. The Gentiles will place their hope in him.
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:7-13, CEB
So often at Christmas we talk about the importance of Jesus coming because he’s the one who ultimately forgives our sins and it’s the forgiveness of sins that makes us acceptable to God. This is a slightly skewed version of what the Bible communicates. Yes, Jesus’ death does, somehow, deal with sin because sin needs to be dealt with. But this is not the primary reason God sent his son. This is just one aspect.
Jesus was sent as part of God’s plan, which he started long before Jesus came on the scene, to create an entire community of faithful people that would reflect God in the world until God himself finishes his work of creating a new heaven and a new earth. First and foremost, Jesus was sent to gather people towards himself, and towards God, and the “sin” piece is a subset of that big picture work. It matters that we get the order of things straight, and I’ll explain why in a few different ways over the next few days. In short, if we only talking about Jesus’ death as dealing with sin then we miss the larger purpose of God’s work and, subsequently, can’t grasp our own calling. We’ve been forgiven, therefore we’ve been saved, therefore…what? What comes next? Obedience? Tithing? Surely there’s more to the story…right?
There is indeed!