It's time for the annual "what does everyone want for Christmas" debacle.
I spend all year gathering clues to what I think my family might want. Sometimes I'm so far off it makes me wonder if I know them as well as I think I do. That's normal, though. Most of us only have a little bit of truth and a whole lot of assumptions about the people we love.
We have many assumptions about God, yet one of His biggest desires is for us to truly know Him. In Isaiah 43:10, He says, "I chose you in order that you would know me intimately, believe me always, and fully understand that I am the only God."
Israel thought they knew Him. They studied a list of rules they believed defined Him. But our God never wanted to be known through a set of rules. Hence, He came in the flesh as a tiny baby.
To me, the Christmas story reminds us God is nothing like we think He is. The thought of God humbling Himself to the point where He had to be fed and have His diaper changed makes my synapses sizzle! What kind of Creator puts Himself in the position to depend upon His creation to change His diaper? All to connect with us. Who does that?!
Christmas reminds me of how incredibly loved we are. To know Him is to know we are His heart's desire.
Call it an occupational hazard, but most of the people I talk to don't know God loves them. They may say they do, but their lives say otherwise. They often tell me they think they've disappointed Him and wonder if they've done enough to make it to heaven.
I find that interesting because Jesus said the definition of eternal life is knowing God as Father and Himself as Savior. Restated, if you want to experience heaven on earth (aka abundant life), you must know the Father and Son intimately.
The longer I am with my husband, the more I find out about him, and the better our relationship gets. Early on in our marriage, my husband got me a strawberry birthday cake. Not my favorite cake flavor, but I thought it must be his, so I ate it without complaint.
That was the first of many strawberry cakes. A couple of years (and several cakes) later, we discovered neither one of us like strawberry cake. We had developed and maintained a ritual based on faulty assumptions.
When we do that with marriage, we can call it poor communication. When we do that with God, we can call it religion.
Religion is all the ritualistic stuff we do that we think pleases a God who longs for relationships. I don't care how well you think you know God; you've still got some religion in you.
The good news is, we have a God who wants to be known more than we want to know Him. He's not playing hide-and-seek. He put Himself on full display in the life of Jesus.
Jesus said, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father."
This holiday season, I challenge you to take a fresh look at the Christmas story. See it from the perspective of a God who has always longed to be known. Look at the lengths He went to so we can understand His nature. Bet you will find out some surprising things about Him.
• Cris Corzine-McCloskey is a licensed clinical social worker and director of Caring Counseling Ministries in Marion, a nonprofit that provides counseling from a Biblical perspective at an affordable cost. Call (618) 997-2129.