When we take a closer look at the characters in the Bible, we will realize that even if they responded in faith, they still felt unqualified for God’s calling at some point. But the Christmas message is a message of God’s grace for all who feel undeserving of His great calling.
We know the Christmas message to be a message of hope and joy for those in need of a Savior, but it is also a message of grace that qualifies the unqualified for God’s plans and purpose. When we read the accounts of Jesus Christ’s birth and take a closer look at the characters involved, we come to a realization that, even though these men and women responded in faith, at some point, they felt unqualified to respond to God’s calling.
When I worked as a recruitment associate in the call center industry, one of my main tasks was to conduct applicants’ initial interviews to see if they are qualified for the position they applied for. One of the hardest parts of my job is to decline an applicant in spite of his efforts and enthusiasm in the interview. Why? Simply because he or she didn’t meet the standard. The applicant wasn’t qualified for the job.
A big part of our lives revolves around trying to meet standards. We may not be fully aware of it, but we adhere to certain standards that greatly influence the way we live. If you are a student, I’m sure it’s very difficult to meet the requirements of a teacher or professor if you don’t know his or her grading system. If you are a working professional, it would be difficult to stay in an organization that doesn’t have clear standards for promotions and incentives.
God has standards as well. His standard is not just a passing grade or an above-average performance. His standard is perfection. In the Bible, God is very clear about what’s acceptable and what is not acceptable to Him. Our greatest problem is not God’s standard. It’s our inability to meet it.
For this reason, Christmas had to happen. The message of Christmas is about how the grace of God works to qualify the unqualified without compromising His standards.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
God became man in Jesus Christ so that man could become like God in righteousness. Instead of lowering His perfect standards, God lifted us up in Christ so that we could meet His standards.
How does this qualifying grace work deeply in our hearts?
Necessary Condition. For us to experience the gracious work of God in our lives, there is a condition to meet. It is a “necessary” condition because apart from this, there is no other way to experience the grace of God that qualifies.
Unlike the rest of the worldly system, where you have to earn or prove your worth by having a good track record, the necessary condition for God’s grace to be poured out in our life is to “receive and believe” in Jesus Christ—that is, to willfully submit to His Lordship over your life.
Christmas is a reminder that it is only by faith in Jesus Christ, who has met God’s qualifications for us, that we can meet God’s demand for perfection.
New Character. For us to better appreciate our new character brought about by the grace of God, we have to understand that we were enemies of God before we experienced His grace (Romans 5:10). We were not “lesser” children of God apart from His grace—rather, we were not His children at all apart from His grace. Furthermore, we were His enemies, willfully rebelling against Him.
God’s grace qualifies us by giving us a new character and a new identity. John said He gave us “the right to become children of God.”
You are not just a better version of your old self or simply a more morally upright version of it. You are a totally different person, who is perfectly upright and righteous because of Christ, and therefore has met the standard of God. Because of His grace, you are now His child and the co-heir of Jesus Christ.
You no longer have to live your life like a slave trying to please your master by doing good works. Instead, you get to enjoy and delight in God and live the full life He has intended for His children.
Noble Calling. Those who have “seen His glory” cannot help but show His glory to others. The nobility of our calling is not based on who is doing what, but on who called whom. The grace of God did not just cause us to meet His standards but also qualifies us to do His purpose.
This noble calling was not given without a cost. This means our great calling comes with a great responsibility to continue to depend on God for wisdom and strength. It is true that we are qualified solely by God’s grace, but His grace did not stop after qualifying us to be His children. It continues to work so that we can live out His calling to give glory to His name, to serve others, and to reconcile the world to Him.
While God’s grace gives us rest from chasing after the standards of the world, it does not translate to mediocrity and laziness in our lives. In fact, the confidence of our identity as children of God puts the desire to be excellent in our hearts, so that we can serve the rest of the world as God meant us to.
God’s grace qualifies us, not by our good works; yet it is the same grace that inspires us to do good works for His glory.
Just like Paul said in one of his letters to the church in Corinth:
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I,
but the grace of God that is with me.
1 Corinthians 15:10
So the next time you feel unqualified to do the purpose of God in your life, think about the story of Christmas and how His grace worked to qualify anyone. Remember that the very reason that Christ became man is to make it possible for us to live our lives as God originally intended us to.
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