High on the list of popular Christmas wishes are these beloved words from the song of the angels on the night Christ was born : On earth peace, goodwill toward men. In my last post I focussed on the first part of that phrase – the declaration of peace. Today I want to follow up with some thoughts on goodwill.
Goodwill – it’s a feel-good word. According to Dictionary.com, the literal meaning of goodwill is friendly disposition; benevolence; kindness. If I say I have goodwill towards you, it means that I am inclined to be friendly towards you, to give you the benefit of the doubt and to treat you favourably.
And that’s what Jesus’ birth means for us!
It means that God is inclined to be friendly towards us. Newsflash – God is not your enemy! We do have an enemy – the Devil – whose agenda is to steal, kill, and destroy. His main scheme is to stay undercover, hide his identity, and deceive us into thinking that God is out to get us. He’s been doing this ever since the Garden of Eden and it’s been a very effective approach as many people have bought into the lie that God is their enemy and have chosen to live life independently. But the amazing, wonderful truth is that God is willing to be our friend – if we will let Him. Instead of punishing us for rejecting His ways, He has come into our world in the person of the peace child, Jesus, born to set us free and lead us into our destiny – the glory of God.
It means that God gives us the benefit of the doubt when we mess up. Well, actually, better than that. There is never any doubt in God’s mind about our wrongdoings and slip-ups; He sees everything! And yet, our amazing God has found a way to be both just and merciful. He did this by coming into the world as the Messiah Jesus to be a perfect offering for our sins. And so God does better than give us the benefit of the doubt when we mess up. He takes the hit for us, places the burden on the shoulders of our burden-bearer Jesus, so that we can go free.
It means that God treats us favourably – that He is on our side, for us and not against us. It is true that if we continue to live independently of God, there will be painful consequences because we were never intended to live that way. But we can know the Lord’s lasting favour, living a life full of joy and purpose, destined for God’s glory, if we will surrender our independence and accept God’s peace child – Jesus, the Messiah, born in the humblest of circumstances in a dirty, smelly manger, but destined to rule all heaven and earth.
Enjoy the good news – God is for you. His will is to bless you. Merry Christmas!