This special Christmas issue looks at …”and the soul felt its worth.”

Christmas nativity CC Jeff Weese CC2.0Christmas wouldn’t be the same without singing O Holy Night sometime during the season. This year, one line of that carol has taken on new meaning for me. The line is:

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

“My worth” has not been among the feelings and ideas stirred up as I have thought about the appearance of Christ during my Christmas celebrations. That all changed as I recently learned some very interesting facts regarding, of all things, adoption. Just like my worth, I have only recently associated adoption with Christmas. Let me explain how the two are related and what it has to do with Christmas.

One of the gifts Christ came to give us was adoption-being adopted into God’s family. At the time Paul was writing about adoption (in Romans, Galatians and Ephesians), it was a far cry from adoption as we know it today. The adoption of infants and children was unknown. Those being adopted were adults, many of whom were slaves. Leading citizens, military leaders and politicians of the day eventually became faced with the reality that one day, in the near future, their children would inherit their wealth, their business, or their kingdom. Many were willing to take whatever steps were necessary to keep their wayward children from destroying what they had taken a lifetime to build. The solution was to adopt someone who had proven himself to be worthy-someone, whether freeman or slave, who could be trusted.

In the midst of this understanding of adoption, God put forth, through the Bible’s human authors, an adoption that turned its meaning at that time upside down. Instead of looking for worthy people, God chose to adopt sinners like you and me whom He would make worthy by imparting the worth of Christ Himself to us. Here’s how it works. God made us all to have intimate fellowship of God, just like Adam and Eve had before they sinned. Once sin came into the picture, however, it followed us wherever we went, and it is our sin that separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). Christ came to walk among us knowing that His mission was to die on the cross as our substitute. Only His death for our sins could remove our sin.

Now that that has been accomplished (at Easter), God sees us (those who have truly believed in Jesus according to John 6:47) the same way He saw Adam and Eve before they sinned-complete, righteous and holy-the same way He sees Jesus. That, my friends, is having worth! This brings us back to where we started:

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

Through our adoption, we have been made worthy, not by anything we have done, but by what Christ came to do. I hope you will think of this the next time you sing O Holy Night. My Christmas wish is that all my readers would become my adopted brothers and sisters this Christmas.


Nativity image by Jeff Weese

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