This is the first year that my son understands the idea of Christmas. He understands the story of Santa, the reindeer, and he even started speculating on the awe and wonder of how Santa can possibly deliver presents all over the world in one night.
However, at three years old, he also is starting to understand not only the real meaning of Christmas but that Christmas is more than just a story about baby Jesus. He started to learn that there are many meanings of Christmas if we take the time to stop and be willing to look at Christmas from a bird's eye perspective, but that all these meanings are for one main reason: to live out the story of Jesus.
My son and I have started to talk a lot about the idea of Jesus’ story being an example of “ordinary to extraordinary”, and it is an ongoing conversation in our house that I thought is worth sharing.
I talk to my son about ordinary to extraordinary a lot. It is a concept that may be above the head of a three-year-old, but I like to start young. I want him to know that it’s okay that he had humble beginnings. I want him to know that there is nothing wrong with his family of four living in a small apartment building as his parents started to build a business.
I want him to know that there is nothing “ordinary” about his life because he has an extraordinary God that will use anyone that is willing to be used for His purpose. We have started to take this concept of ordinary to extraordinary and use it to explain all the meanings of Christmas in our life.
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Story of Christmas
As a child, I remember my teenage brother asking my dad why we had to go to the Christmas Eve service at my church. “We hear the same story of Christmas every year, I think we know what happens,” I remember my brother saying.
I know he was just trying to be funny, but that’s actually what it was like in my church. We had an amazing pastor, and he tried to shed new light on the same story of Christmas each year, but that’s what it was- the same story.
Every year, we tried to bring something new to the same story of the birth of Jesus, and that can get really repetitive after a while. Every year we have represented the idea that Christmas wasn’t just about a baby Jesus, it was about a Jesus that came and saved us all. The story of Christmas went from ordinary to extraordinary because the baby Jesus was actually the Savior of the world.
I talk often about how I left the church for a good chunk of my life. After walking away from not just church, but God also, I came back by reading the Bible for myself instead of anyone interpreting it for me. I read more about the story of Jesus being born, and focused on a different character in the story of Christmas every time I read it.
As I did this, the story of Christmas really was about the idea of “ordinary to extraordinary”. It was all about the idea of something that starts off so simple can turn into something grand.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from sin. Matthew 1:21 NIV
Never Discount Ordinary
Mary was an ordinary girl, but she was willing to go with God’s plan even though she was an unmarried virgin. Joseph went from ordinary to extraordinary when instead of “dismissing her quietly”, he listened to the angels and went along with God’s plan, even though it made no sense whatsoever.
Bethlehem was just an ordinary town. Think of a small town outside a city near you (maybe you live in a town such as that). That was Bethlehem. There is no reason for the whole world to know about a town like this, except that it was the town where the extraordinary happened. The wise men decided to listen to God and not go back to the king to tell him about our Savior being born.
These were all ordinary people in an ordinary setting that God purposefully used to complete the extraordinary- the birth of our Savior, who was born as a sacrifice to save us all.
One of the biggest meanings of Christmas in all of this is that the story is about Him, but it is also about us. God arrived on Earth on Christmas Day with the full knowledge that He would die for us. Understanding the sacrifice of Jesus means that we are automatically put into the story of Christmas! We are part of the story of how to go from ordinary to extraordinary by being God’s hands and feet in this world.
So how do we fulfill the meaning of Christmas? By deciding to be part of the story of Christmas.
Why am I here?
It can be hard for us to feel like we are part of that story of God, let alone the story of Christmas. A lot of us feel like ordinary people. How could we possibly be part of the greatest story when we can’t even figure out our purpose in life? I struggled with this personally for a while. I knew that God wanted to use me, but I constantly wondered, “Why am I here?”. How could God use me if I didn’t even know my purpose?
I know that I am not alone. With thousands of people each searching Google and other search engines asking the question “Why am I here” on a monthly basis, it is obvious that it is something in which we all struggle. We may feel too ordinary to accomplish God’s work.
However, God actually creates the ordinary specifically to fulfill his extraordinary purpose. How boring would the story of Christmas be if Jesus had a noble birth? It would have just been the story of any other king. However, God purposefully took the most ordinary parts of life and created something extraordinary out of it.
Related: Using Your Gifts for God
Never Feel too Ordinary!
If you feel too ordinary, that means the story of how God is going to use you is even greater than you could possibly imagine- if you let yourself be part of the story, no matter how far it makes you go outside of your comfort zone.
All of the people in the story of Christmas had one thing in common: they followed God’s plan, no matter how little it made sense. They loved God so much that they were willing to take huge steps of faith even though they did not understand the whole picture at the time.
We are here to fulfill God’s purpose and God’s plan. We are one of the many meanings of Christmas- if Jesus came for us, we are part of this incredible story, and it makes the answer to “Why am I here” very simple- to be part of God’s plan.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14
Christmas and love
So if our purpose is to complete God’s plan, and the story of Christmas was the beginning of God’s plan, what do we need to go from ordinary to extraordinary in our life of living for Him? We need His love. We cannot have Christmas without love.
Christmas and love go hand in hand. If we love Jesus, we love the story of Christmas. We love that ordinary people helped produce this story of God’s greatness and that we are in this world to continue it. Love is the tool needed to fulfill the meaning of Christmas.
Mary, Joseph, the wise men, the shepherds, and everyone else in the story loved God, so they wanted to fulfill his plan. This is not just in the story of Christmas but throughout the Bible. In the book of Joshua, he was expected to fulfill God’s promises by walking around the walls of Jericho seven times and blow some horns. It sounds ridiculous unless you have a love for God that is so strong that you are willing to answer His call even if it doesn’t make sense.
Meanings of Christmas
When people discuss the “meaning of Christmas”, they are usually referring to remembering that the season is about Jesus. However, it is so much more than that. The season is remembering that the story of Christmas was simply the beginning of the greatest story ever told- a story that is not yet over. Every time you love someone in God’s name, the story of Jesus continues. Anytime you take a huge leap in faith, the story of Christmas continues.
What can you do this Christmas season that shows the love of God? How can you go out of your comfort zone to do God’s will, even when it doesn’t make sense? When you start to do that, you start to discover there are many meanings of Christmas, but it all revolves around Jesus. Allow yourself to go from ordinary to extraordinary this season by praying to God and asking for His plan in your life, then take the jump and follow it.