As this really useful post teaches, we all deserve to be on the naughty list, to get that lump of coal and the consequences that come with it. But the little baby that is the reason we have Christmas in the first place, has taken that list and ripped it to pieces.
Paul writes to the Romans (3:10) that no one is righteous, not one person, and we all deserve to be on the naughty list. He goes on to teach, this time to the Ephesians (2:8), that we can be saved from this list and that it is by grace that we are saved, not by what we do but by something that only God can give. We can try to make it on that nice list but the more we try, the further we will go from the free offer of righteousness that Jesus offers as we try to find our own way to be good.
Jesus is the only one who will ever be on the nice list but through his death, he offers to swap places with us, taking the punishment we deserve and giving us a place on the nice list. The great news is that this nice list promises more than just Christmas presents but an eternity with the One who made us and who loves us.
I'll finish this post with the closing paragraphs of the blog I found this great illustration in.
We are offered something much greater than a shelf-bound elf that will hopefully report our good deeds to the red-suited guy up north so we can receive blessings. We are offered the grace of God who appeared in a lowly manger as a helpless baby. Sometimes it seems easier to hang our hopes on the elf.
We have been given a Savior who drenches us in his righteousness and does not add up our deeds – good or bad – into a tally for a quantifiable list. It never makes sense in the economy of good=blessing, bad=coal. By grace, our badness becomes righteousness. Our “goodness” often needs to be repented of because it dismissed the necessity of Christ.
Everything about this gift of Jesus given at Christmas is radical—turning bad into good, babes into kings, legalistic lists into glorious grace. Merry Christmas!