On this sixth day of Advent, we share thoughts from Norman Vincent Peale, the founder of Guideposts, about how we should embrace the Christ child in this season of joy.
“Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David. a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”—Luke 2:10-11.
No other news, no other information ever delivered to human beings can approach in happiness this simple statement of a birth. This happiest of all news informs us of a seemingly incredible thing; that God is with us.
The Scripture says that His name shall be called Immanuel, which being interpreted means—God with us. This is the heart of the Christmas message, that Almighty God walks these dusty ways and abides with us.
It is almost incredible. Think of it. He who rolled back the curtain of the night at the dawn of creation, He who hung the stars in spangled glory upon the skies, He who sets the sun in motion and the planets according to their orbits, the Eternal Everlasting Creator and Ruler of the ends of the earth—He, according to this story is with us; with you and with me.
Human experience attests the fact that this is true. This is the only wonder of the world. The greatest, finest, most intellectual men among us have discovered this truth in their personal experiences.
Why did Christ come? Have you asked yourselves? When last did you think about it?
He came to save the world. To redeem us from our sins. And to show us how to live.
Now those of us who are not godless people have come to love and serve our God and have learned how practical are His teachings, how never-failing His help, how ever dependable His advice and directions.
So we come more and more to use His Christian way of life, knowing it works daily miracles—and wondering why it doesn’t solve everything.
But we shun the first and real mission of His coming.
To save us from our sins? Us, sinners?
The modern generation does not like to talk about sin, they even go so far as to say there is no sin. Well, what shall we call it? Is it just sophistication?
As a matter of fact the word does not apply, because a man who lives a sinful life is a fool, he is not sophisticated. Sophistication means worldly-wise, to know your way around in the world so you will not get licked by the world.
These fellows who call themselves sophisticated are licked. What is their trouble? All they have done is to do wrong and they cannot stop it. They try to rationalize it.
Rationalization is when the mind tells you that what you are doing is not wrong—it used to be wrong years ago, but it is not wrong anymore. Whenever you do a wrong thing your mind tries to save you face.
It always says to you, “Now wait a minute, what you did is not wrong at all, do not get any such notions about yourself—you are really a very fine fellow. These preachers are all wrong, they are a lot of has-beens and moss-backs—do not believe them, talking about sin and the like!” That is the way your mind works.
I heard a very wise man say something the other day that brought me up short and I am going to give it to you to mull over. He is the head of a university and the author of many nonfiction best sellers. He said: “The smartest thing the devil ever did was to get people to believe he doesn’t exist.”
We do believe that! We say we believe the Bible. We read that Christ cast out devils and demons, but we’re too smart to believe for one minute that evil spirits can attack us.
We believe in God who is a spirit. We believe in a universal force that is spiritual. We believe we ourselves have an imperishable spirit. Yes, we believe in the power of the spirit of good. But we dismiss the power of the spirit of evil, though we see its works all about us.
The devil? Sin? Archaic! Old-fashioned! Childish! Even a little vulgar, don’t you know! And certainly not scientific.
But Christ came to our earth to save mankind from sin—to redeem us—to be our personal salvation. He gave us tools of infinite worth to build our road to Heaven. He even taught us to ask for Heaven here on Earth.
But He asked that we abandon sinful ways. That we seek and ask forgiveness. That we amend our ways and learn self-denial and practice with His help, self-mastery.
Until we do, there is no welcome for the Christ Child.
Today—this minute—we can open our hearts and embrace Him with all His teaching—not only the Christian methods to reap abundance and joy and health and happy fulfillment—but also the cancelation of sin that is in all of us.
We can practice now and always, the realization of our wrongdoing, recognition of our sins, the need for forgiveness to ease our inner sense of guilt, and the will, with His help, to change.
Then will be a Christmas indeed for the whole world.
God is here—say that to yourself; do not be pessimistic; do not disbelieve; do not be negative. Yes, we have our evil cities, our desecrated areas, our broken economy through our sins—but God is here and in His name we will set up our fresh banners.
We cannot save ourselves, but the Saviour is here and in Him we put our trust. This may be our finest welcome to the Christ Child.
If, beginning this Christmas, you say to yourself—God, through Jesus Christ, is with me—and repeat it daily through the long days and weeks, in happiness and discouragement, that is the greatest gift you can give the Christ Child.
This story first appeared in the December 1949 edition of Guideposts.