During this Christmas season, an idea for a post has been bouncing around in my head but it seemed something was missing. Today, reading a post of a fellow blogger, I came across a verse that seemed to tie the idea together. It is a great Old Testament verse showing the humility of King David and his trust in the mercy of God.
David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” 2 Samuel 24:14.
This Christmas season, I have been increasingly troubled by the prominence of Santa Claus and “giving” as the reason for Christmas. The Divine gift of salvation through the Christ child is downplayed and the jolly old elf is center stage wherever you go. But exactly what bothered me about hearing people say that the reason for Christmas is giving I couldn’t put my finger on. After all, giving is a good thing. And Santa certainly is known for giving gifts.
But with Santa there is a catch. Remember the Christmas song, “He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice. He’s gonna find out whose naughty and nice.” As the story goes, only those on the nice list are given gifts by Santa. Those on the naughty list get a lump of coal. Although Santa is jolly, he isn’t very merciful.
Jesus, on the other hand, came for all mankind. He is merciful. Just like David, I would rather fall into the hands of God, for His mercy is great. I prefer the gift of grace and mercy that Christmas promises over all the earthly treasures promised by Santa if only I am good.
This morning listening to my iPod the song “Forgiven” by Skillet came on. It is a wonderful reminder of the mercy of our Lord. My favorite part of the song is the chorus:
Now I’m in our secret place
Alone in your embrace
Where all my wrongs have been erased
You have forgiven
All the promises and lies
All the times I compromise
All the times you were denied
You have forgiven
I’ve often heard people complain about the exclusivity of Christianity, because Christians believe that only those who believe in Jesus will go to heaven. But the opportunity to accept God’s gift of mercy and grace is open to all. No one is excluded from God’s love that is in Christ, our Savior.
People exclude each other from clubs and groups. Even Santa excludes those on the naughty list from receiving gifts. We demand payback and revenge, that others get what’s coming to them. We are not merciful to our fellow human beings.
But God’s invitation is open to all. God does not demand payback and revenge, He does not demand that we get what is coming to us for our actions. Instead, He paid the price for our sins Himself so that we would know His mercy.
Long before Jesus became God incarnate, the prophet Isaiah spoke of His mercy:
But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
He is the Savior not only of Israel, but of all who trust in Him. At Christmas, we remember that this mighty King came to a lowly manger for the purpose of living a sinless life and then giving His life as a ransom for you and me. Just as Israel had strayed from the Lord, we all have gone astray. We don’t deserve the Lord’s mercy. But at Christmas, His mercy gives birth to hope that leads to faith.
Whether you are on Santa’s nice or naughty list, the gift of God’s mercy is yours today and always. Won’t you, like David, choose to fall into the hands of a merciful God? His love awaits your choice to enter His embrace and be forgiven.