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I was recently in a resort city.  On a given day, I went to a rather upscale coffee shop, got an overpriced coffee and simply watched the beautiful people coming and going.  I saw very few children, but I saw an abundance of dogs.  Not one was a mutt.  Each one was a purebred.  No doubt they were expensive to purchase.  I assumed each puppy would have cost many thousands.  But it did not end there.  So many of the dogs were meticulously manicured.  I couldn’t imagine the cost it must have taken to have the kinds of haircuts some of those dogs had.  They were overwhelmingly ostentatious.  I saw a number of people with two such dogs.  Furthermore, the coffee shop also sold drinks and treats for the dogs as well as the people.  I overheard one man telling a woman that his particular dog was especially spoiled.  I had no doubt this was true.

I thought about the absence of children there, and the abundant presence of the overindulged dogs.  And I could imagine all the reasons for it.  Children are harder to manage.  Children require a great deal of sacrifice.  Children rebel and can cause heartache for their parents.  Children require an abundance of changes to our personal lives.  I love to say that children have the knack of finding every selfish bone in the parents’ bodies and mercilessly crushing them.  From the moment they are born, they demand regular “all nighters” to deal with everything from colic to fear of the dark.  When they become teenagers, they may be ashamed of their parents.  And when they grow older, it is conceivable that they may reject their parents utterly.

The dogs do none of those things.  Furthermore, if those dogs I witnessed in the coffee shop were expensive, they are not as expensive as one single child.  Those dogs did not demand money for education, for music lessons or the time necessary to invest in everything from teaching them to drive a car to how to pick a mate.

Children are a great deal more difficult than dogs.  No wonder so many find them an unwelcome intrusion into their lives.  In the end, the danger of having children is that they might not appreciate all the sacrifice of their parents at all.  They have the potential to disappoint in ways we can’t imagine.  Dogs are so much easier.  And dogs have an additional bonus – if we don’t want the dogs anymore, there are multiple ways of getting rid of them.

For all of what I witnessed in that coffee shop on that day, I love the story of Christmas.  God sent his Son into a world of rebellious, ungrateful and sinful people.  God would not put a nice leash on us, take us to the best obedience school and give us a lavish haircut while feeding us expensive treats.  None of that.  Instead, Jesus came to a world that hated God and that loved darkness instead of light.  He came to those who would not receive Him.  Indeed, they would look upon the precious gift of the child in the manger, and eventually nail Him to a cross.  The Christmas story is not neat and tidy, it is messy and filled with ugliness. It cries out, “Who will save the ruined human race?”  If God will save this race, it will cost Him the death of His only begotten Son.

But of course, the story of Christmas does not end with the salvation of all who would receive the gift of the Christ child.  The story of Christmas only ends when Christ returns and establishes His kingdom.  He makes those who would receive Him into His sons and daughters and promises them that they will rule and reign with Him over all the works of His hands.  That is, what God does in those He saves, results in an eternal relationship with them.

I am delighted with Christmas.  God so loved the world of men and women.  God so loved the world of image bearers of God.  God so loved the crown of His creation that He chose to redeem us rather than substitute us for a less troublesome plan.  Oh, how He loves us!  Have a blessed Christmas!!

Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld is the national Bible teacher at Back to the Bible Canada. He has served as Senior Pastor, church planter, conference speaker and educator, and is known both nationally and internationally for his passion and excellence in expositional preaching and teaching.

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