We were looking over the address list for sending out Christmas cards and found some that needed updating, some that needed to be deleted, and decided to add a couple people to the list. Christmas comes every year, so you’d think updating the address list is an annual event.
Not for us.
We are not known for sending out cards every year. We used to, but now just don’t. If this time of year is too stressful or jammed with too much going on, we decided years ago that adding on the task of getting out cards was something we would take a pass on. So we do. Pass on it, that is.
I imagine there are people who look over their own lists and see us on there, considering whether to drop us since they haven’t heard from us for a couple of years. Then, just as they start to hit the delete button, WHAM! – a card drops into their mailbox with our return address on it.
Just when you thought it was safe to strike off the Fall family, we insert ourselves into peoples’ lives once again with a Christmas card.
Christmas Card Lists and the Book of Life
Coinciding with our list review, I am re-reading Revelation where John repeatedly refers to the Book of Life and how those whose names are written in it are with God for eternity. Paul had earlier written about this book as well:
Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:3.)
Paul recognized that everyone who serves in God’s kingdom – which is another way of saying everyone who is in the Body of Christ, or everyone who belongs to Jesus – all these people’s names are written in the Book of Life. To get back to John, he earlier wrote that Jesus promised that those belonging to him are forever his.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:27-30)
What authority did Jesus possess to make such a promise? It’s there in the last sentence. God the Son and God the Father are one. On top of that, your relationship with God is sealed by God himself, the Holy Spirit.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14.)
Your inheritance in Jesus is guaranteed. That means that having your name written in the Book of Life is forever. No one gets stricken from the list.
The Gift of Righteousness
Traditions around Christmas include gifts as well as cards. In Revelation, John wrote of a gift given to those who by virtue of belonging to Jesus are also known as the Bride of Christ.
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
The Lamb is Jesus and the bride is his church, comprised of everyone the Father has given to Jesus and holds onto for eternity. Notice how in one sentence the multitude sings that the bride has made herself ready, then in the next says she received her wedding clothes as a gift. Then John adds a parenthetical explanation following the anthem – the fine clothes given the bride stand for righteousness.
Your Unearned Place on the List
To trace back from that explanation, it means there are righteous acts of God’s people which are given to them so they can wear them in Christ’s presence. The righteous acts are not their gift to God but rather God’s gift to them.
John isn’t the only one to record this truth about your righteousness. When it came to his own efforts at righteousness, Paul wrote:
I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Philippians 3:8-9.)
It is this righteousness – righteousness given by God through faith in Jesus rather than works for him – that counts in God’s kingdom. This is the worthiness Jesus speaks of in his message to his people in Sardis:
They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. (Revelation 3:4-5.)
This ability to walk with him, worthy and victorious, is all because of Jesus’ own righteousness given you by God’s grace, not because of your works but because of God’s choice to bless you with the work of Jesus who is himself forever righteous.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5.)
God’s grace. That is how you make it onto the eternal Christmas list, receiving the gift of Jesus himself. It’s a list worth considering not just annually but constantly, as reminder of God’s gracious gift to you at this time of year and always.