Christmas is Fake

John 1:1-14 1     In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

Christmas is fake. There’s the fake smiles. When you walk into a store, you might be greeted by a smiling employee. Do you think that person was actually happy to see you? There’s fake gifts. Well, maybe the gifts themselves aren’t fake, but they don’t come from loving generosity.  How about the fake relationships? Do any of your family members put up with one another just because “it’s Christmas”? Let’s face it: Christmas is fake.

But if it’s fake, it’s because we’ve made it fake. Admit it. You’ve done some of those fake things. You’ve forced a smile because it was easier to pretend to be happy. You’ve bought a gift for someone just because you had to. You’ve pretended to be on good terms with someone else just to keep things easier. Aren’t you sick of it? I hate it when other people pretend at me. Don’t you? People pretending to be your friend when they don’t even know you?

And me? I’m so used to faking it. I’m so used to pretending to be happy even when I’m not. I’m so used to putting on a show that I’m happy, I wouldn’t know genuine if it slapped me upside the head.

There’s nothing genuine, is there? Everything’s faked. Everything’s pretend. No such thing as ‘real.’ Nothing I’ve ever seen in this world. Everyone here’s a faker. Everyone’s trying to look prettier than they are. They’re trying to look more popular than they are. They’re pretending there’s more love in their hearts and money in their wallets. Even me. I’m fake, too. If anyone’s going to be real, to be genuine, it would have to be someone who’s not from here. Someone who isn’t like me at all.

I need someone genuine. I need someone real.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1-2) A word is the only way we can know someone’s mind. I can’t know what you’re thinking unless you tell me. You use words. We can’t know what God’s thinking unless he tells us. He uses a Word – but a very special Word. A Word that we call Jesus. But words can be faked, can’t they? I could tell you a lie using words. Can we trust God? How do we know he’s not playing pretend?

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:3-5) This Word from God is light. And the light shines…  but the darkness doesn’t understand it. It’s almost like someone real, someone genuine is suddenly here in a world of fakers. Just like darkness can never understand light, a faker can never understand the truth.

The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. (John 1:9) Someone from the outside… Someone who isn’t tainted by all the fake stuff here?

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. (John 1:10) And why would they? If he’s the real thing, why would a world of fakers ever recognize truth? How would we ever recognize truth?

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:11-13) Jesus wanted to give people the right to be children of God. Not just children of another faker. Children of God. Those who trust him have the right to be children of God… but why? Why would a world of fakers, a world that turns Christmas into an opportunity to lie to relatives and put on fake smiles, why would a world of fakers ever trust? Why would someone from the outside, someone like God, ever want a bunch of liers and pretenders as his children?

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) …full of grace and truth. He’s not only full of truth. It’s not only that he’s full of the opposite of what crosses our lips and informs how we act. He’s full of grace. Grace gives the opposite of what we deserve. We deserved more lies. We deserved more fake. More façade. But God gave us the truth.

He knew we faked so many things. He knew that we couldn’t tell the truth. At least, we couldn’t tell the truth in love. But he chose to tell us the truth. He tells us that we are sinful. That our mouths practice deceit and the truth is not in us. That the Prince of Lies should have us, since that’s our native language. See the God who doesn’t fake a smile at us. He tells us exactly why he’s unhappy with us: Because we are fake. Because I am fake. But he chose to love us anyway. The Truth chose to love those who knew only the language of deceit… and he became one of us to tell us that truth.

This Christmas, see the genuine God. See the God who loves the truth, who became one of us to tell us the truth. Immanuel really chose to stay with us. He wanted a real relationship with us, so he made his dwelling among us. This isn’t putting up with a relative you don’t like for the sake of Christmas. This is forging a relationship based on truth. Based on genuine love.

This is God choosing to set aside the full use of his powers so he could be one of us. Humiliated. Born in a barn. Choosing to grow up. To be a child. A teenager. A young adult. Choosing to speak the truth to a world that didn’t understand. Choosing to allow those who loved darkness to take him. Choosing to allow those who hated truth to murder him. And his entire life, he never once uttered a lie. No deceit was found in his mouth. He always, always spoke the truth. In love!

And when he died, he traded places with you. With the fakers. With the liers. With those who pretend. He took the punishment you deserve for faking it. And he gave you his perfect record of truth. His perfect record of speaking the truth in love. In God’s eyes, your testimony is always true. There is no longer any record of you having any deceit in your mouth. God doesn’t see you playing pretend anymore. And then, God showed that Jesus told the truth, and that he approved of it. Jesus got up three days after he died. He was alive again.

And God proved he was no faker, he proved he wasn’t full of big talk, when he gave his Son on Christmas. When Mary held God’s Word, the genuine article. The Word, Jesus, became flesh. He became one of us. He lived among us. That is genuine love.

And genuine love… well, that produces genuine awe. What was once fake love and a forced smile becomes true love and an honest smile. We can’t help it. We know the Truth now. We know someone genuine. We know Jesus. And we can’t help but speak the truth, even to other liars. Even to other fakers. We want them to know the truth. And they’ll get it as little as we got it. At first.

This Christmas, you are surrounded by fake things. You’re surrounded by people trying to comfort themselves by believing lies. Fake smiles, fake gifts, fake relationships. But you know the truth. You know that the one being in the universe who knew and spoke only truth became one of us… for fakers like us. He really smiled at us. The smile was genuine. He gave us a true gift. He wants a real relationship. With you. Honor that commitment that he would do so much… for you. Rejoice in the truth that you know. Share it. And let it transform you.

The darkness doesn’t recognize the light… but we stand in the light now. We rejoice in the light. We rejoice in truth. Celebrate that truth. Jesus was born. Jesus died. Jesus lives again. And that is genuine love.

Amen.

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