RECEIVING THE GIFT
1st Sunday after Christmas – B LSB #392
Text – Galatians 4:4-5
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
RECEIVING THE GIFT
“You’re nobody til somebody loves you you’re nobody til somebody cares you may be king, you may possess the world & its gold but gold won’t bring you happiness when you’re growing old the world still is the same, you never change it as sure as the stars shine above you’re nobody til somebody loves you…”
For people who believe nobody loves them, the Christmas season brings a high rate of loneliness & depression. Songs like that #1 hit by Dean Martin highlight the sadness for them. All the bright lights & parties of Christmas just emphasize what’s missing in their lives. You’re Nobody til Somebody Loves You speaks to the heart of many of our world’s problems.
Is that a problem you struggle with? Have there been times when you’ve felt like singing the “I’m a nobody blues?” Do you know someone else who feels that way? In the year 2003 a group called Evanescence scored a major hit with the song Bring Me To Life. Listen to the thoughts expressed by these lyrics:
“How can you see into my eyes like open doors? Leading you down into my core where I’ve become so numb without a soul my spirit sleeping somewhere cold until you find it there & lead it back home.
Wake me up inside wake me up inside call my name & save me from the dark. Bid my blood to run before I come undone. Save me from the nothing I’ve become.”
Two hit songs, almost 40 years apart, in totally different musical styles, yet they speak to the same core issue. Even if you don’t struggle with the problem, of feeling like nobody, apparently a lot of people do. That shouldn’t be a surprise to us in the Christian Church either, because the Bible explains very clearly why human beings have problems with it.
In the book of Acts, St. Luke wrote how God created, from one man, all nations. Then he gives the reason: “God did this so that men would seek Him & perhaps reach out for Him & find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. ‘For in Him we live & move & have our being.’” (Acts 17:27-28 NIV)
In other words, if our very life exists in God, then apart from Him we are nothing. The sin of Adam & Eve destroyed the relationship & the connection mankind had with the source of life. When sin entered the world it cut us off from life. As the song lyrics put it: “Bid my blood to run before I come undone. Save me from the nothing I’ve become.”
The song lyrics bring it down to earth & make it real, yet the problem is still rather abstract. The Bible correctly diagnoses the problem, but in our culture, as each day goes by, fewer & fewer people are putting stock in what the Bible has to say. If we’re going to offer them hope for living, we need to arrive at the Bible’s answer from another direction.
Let’s begin with the matter of identity. When you meet someone new, how do you introduce yourself? You probably don’t say, “I’m Mr. Nobody.” I doubt you begin with, “I’m Mrs. Nothing.” Most likely you tell people something about yourself, about who you are, what you do, which hobbies & activities interest you.
In the United States, people are less likely to define themselves in terms of who they are related to. Our culture teaches us to define ourselves based upon who we see ourselves to be. We live in a nation that is obsessed with self. We see that in the proliferation of these kinds of terms: self-fulfillment, self-acceptance, self-image, self-esteem, self-identity & self-promotion. The culture encourages us to think that our world revolves around ourselves, our wants, our needs, our desires. Such a self-centered world, however, tends to be a lonely existence. It isolates us, not only from other people, but from our Creator. When the singer belts out: “Save me from the nothing I’ve become,” she is singing of a self-inflicted wound.
Concerning the lyrics sung by Dean Martin, the idea that you’re nobody until somebody loves you can be thought of as an answer to that dilemma. The love of another person has made each of us feel special at one time or another. It is an incredibly powerful & elevating force, yet human love falters. Who of us has not also been hurt by a love that varies like the wind?
While human love can absolutely erase the feeling that you’re a nobody, it can also send you crashing back into the deepest depths of nothingness when the lover inevitably falters or fails. If we rely on human love only, to cure us of the ‘nobody blues,’ then we’re left as slaves at best, to the failings & the weakness that all mankind suffers from.
What we truly need is something, or someone, who’s capable of lifting us up & out of the fallen human condition. So many of the world’s problems stem from the fact that people are constantly searching for a sense of value & worth that’s able to transcend the brokenness of our lives, & of the world we live in. If there’s no hope of that, there is no hope at all.
“Eat, drink & be merry, for tomorrow we die” is the best that life in this world can offer, unless there’s something permanent enough, & powerful enough, to lift us beyond the disappointing heartache that all of us have encountered through simply being alive. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son…”
We’re still in the Christmas season, but we’re past all the hype & the anticipation. Now that all the excitement of unwrapping the presents is over maybe we can examine the birth of our Savior in a less cluttered & more rational light. The answer to being nothing & nobody, as our heavenly Father reveals it, is the birth of God’s Son into the human race. In the Garden of Eden our Creator, & His creation, were in perfect harmony. There was no self-centeredness, no dissension, no failure or brokenness. It was paradise. Then rebellion entered in & the perfect relationship between Creator & creature was shattered.
Although physical death took 900 more years for Adam, the spiritual death occurred immediately. Adam & Eve were cut off from life, & like any dead branch, they were powerless to change that; incapable of re-grafting themselves to the Vine. They truly were left as nobody & needed someone to save them from the nothing they had become.
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” You see, the genius, the glory, the amazing fact of Christmas is that Jesus has come to set us free from our slavery to everything self – self-centered, self-important, self-reliant.
Jesus has freed us from the broken helplessness of a sin-filled world, & He did all that so our heavenly Father could adopt us back into His family, where He created us to belong. As members of the royal line of David we, already now, are somebody. We have been saved from the nothing we had become.
Through Jesus being God & Man, the human race has been reconnected to the perfect harmony of paradise. It’s true, we can’t see that yet, but it’s real in a way that only our heavenly eyes will be able to see. Where you have faltered & failed in your love for the important people in your life, Jesus has not. Plus, He died to take away the effects of our failures.
We can live with no shame, no matter how often Satan & his minions throw it in our face. However, because Jesus has removed it, true faith in Jesus wants to, even longs to, live up to the standards of paradise, as we know them in the Ten Commandments. Yes, we still fall short, but in the big picture, in the true reality that only God can see, we never give up trying. We can’t say, “What’s the use,” because Jesus has fixed all things. Our broken & sinful eyesight just can’t see it yet. Was your Christmas perfect this year? Did you not fail in any way, in any thing? I know the answer to that before I ask it.
Yet the love of God enables us to try again, this afternoon, tomorrow, next week, next year. Even our failures, our heavenly Creator is able to use to build His kingdom, for here on earth & for there in eternity. In a sense, you & I are still dead today, even as children of God, but it is Jesus who is living in us, working through us, strengthening & healing us.
We have been slaves to a tyrant, the tyrant of sin, death & the devil – the unholy trinity as it’s sometimes referred to. And St. Paul summarizes his message of the 1st four chapters of Galatians at the beginning of chapter 5, when he writes: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, & do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 ESV)
In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote: “So then you are no longer strangers & aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints & members of the household of God…” (Ephesians 2:19 ESV) Being adopted is the same as receiving a gift. That we might receive that gift is why God sent His Son Jesus to be born in a manger & to die on a cross.
Have you received that gift this year? Have you opened it? It’s yours to keep & to use for all of eternity. Maybe we’ll even be singing songs there about how we were nobody until Jesus loved us. Amen.
I was in slavery, sin, death & darkness; God’s love was working to make me free. He sent forth Jesus, my dear Redeemer, He sent forth Jesus & set me free. Jesus, my Savior, Himself did offer; Jesus, my Savior, paid all I owed. Now I will praise You, O Love eternal; now I will praise You all my life long. Therefore I’ll say again: God loves me dearly, God loves me dearly, loves even me. Amen.
 "You're Nobody till Somebody Loves You" is a popular song written by Russ Morgan, Larry Stock & James Cavanaugh, published in 1944.
 Written by Amy Lee, Ben Moody & David Hodges.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet