It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect longsuffering as an example for those purposing to believe in Him for eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:15–16
The trifecta of Christian taxonomy does not always move in the same direction. We recite “faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love” as though spiritual energy only flows one way. But that’s not the case. Christmas reminds us that the reverse is also true. God’s love for us in Christ produces a hope for the future which stimulates the faith that responds to the gospel with persevering obedience. Love → Hope → Faith, which resolves itself into a life characterized by Faith → Hope → Love. It’s no wonder we wonder at the nativity!
At Christmas wonder is appropriate
Because Christ Jesus left the Father’s side
And came to us as an expatriate
To be the one on whom our hopes relied.
For, blackened by the sin of unbelief,
Not one of us could stand before God’s face
Without receiving wrath for all the grief
We caused him when we snubbed and spurned his grace.
Yet in Christ’s love a patient power rests,
So that no matter what has been our case,
He suffers long, and perfectly arrests
Sin’s power to obstruct our move to grace.
Because we can depend on this true word,
We celebrate your birth with faith, O Lord.