So the average shampoo bottle tells us. Back when I did have hair, I did no such thing. Seriously, I’ve NEVER washed my hair twice in one showering. Even after a long and filthy workday, I don’t ever recall following the directions because I was convinced of cleanliness after just one wash and rinse. Washing and rinsing 2x? Ridiculous.
Repetition for the Christian soul, however, is the only way forward. We go back to the “same old, same old” to take steps ahead. We head back to familiar territory to gain ground in unfamiliar ones. Call it a paradox. The reason for repetition is that these old, old truths are the very things, the only things, that set us free and drive us to greater joys than this world could ever possibly manufacture.
Our joy is made up of old, well-known truths that must be absorbed and reapplied a million times after first believing. The story of redemption, with the advent and virgin-birth of Christ included, is truth that is absolutely and incredibly necessary for me to grow from one degree of glory to another.
Maturity is not moving on from the pure and simple gospel, it is moving back again and again to it because I always lack in zeal and affection and the head-to-toe transformation that comes only from faith in the gospel. Immaturity, as I’ve come to experience first-hand, is exactly the opposite: to move on from old truths I already know out of expediency or out of a sense of “it just isn’t working!” It is sobering to think that I can at times believe that Jesus and his gospel aren’t working. Unbelief is to the gospel what the Grinch was to Whoville. Unbelief commits treason and makes the gospel boring, impractical and redundant.
True and pervasive joy is found in the treasure that we’ve known and been taught about a thousand times over. So the test of my treasure-handling comes when I look at any facet of the gospel (Jesus’ birth, perfect life, death, resurrection and ascension). Whenever I hear this news or any part of it – in this case our Savior’s birth – what is my reaction?
I know what it should be.
God became man. God came to be a human embryo. Then cells divided and Christ became a fetus and developed a heart and lungs and little tiny fingers and toes in the womb of Mary. The One who is God went through all of this? Amazing. Let’s also remember why God became a man and the end result of all this mystery. Christ was born in Bethlehem so that sinful wretches like you and me could be reconciled to our holy Creator and Judge over all the earth, all by the purposeful spilling of his blood at a horrible place called Golgotha approximately 33 years after his birth. Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered then under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried: for us.
Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth
Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel
Treasuring Jesus’ birth requires feet of clay. For the one who daily recognizes how fallen he is, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ takes on the incredible shine and glory that it truly has. For the one who has lost the wonder of the Son of God, it will easily be traced back to the treason of unbelief and that slippage that comes when we’ve lost the deep sense of our need for Christ. The wonder and joy of the incarnation comes freely to those who pray like the Publican: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” The gospel glows for sinners! Jesus Christ sparkles and shines (like the treasure that he is) for those who feel most deeply and most desperately that they have need for his salvation and his constant care.