We have finally entered that time of year when I can fully embrace a fanatical part of my being. I am a huge fan of Christmas. And not just because of the birth of our savior. I enjoy the colors, the smells, the togetherness of friends and family and, of course, Christmas movies. One of the most popular of these films is It’s a Wonderful Life. For those of you who have not seen this film, stop reading and go watch it—then you may
George Bailey is the focus of It’s a Wonderful Life. He is an “everyman,” hard-working and selfless. However, through the difficult decisions in his life, he has become burned out and empty. George starts to believe that his family would be better off if he were dead. He is about to jump off a bridge when Clarence, his guardian angel, steps in.
While there are a number of theological issues with this movie, there is a glimpse of the Gospel here. Obviously, we do not read anywhere in the Bible of angels having to earn their wings. George, when he wants to go back to his old life actually “prays” to Clarence the angel which is also not biblical. And perhaps the biggest issue I have is that we are to believe that because of George’s great self-worth, the world is so much better off with him in it.
What I take away from It’s a Wonderful Life is that I can’t save myself. Our worth comes from our identity in Christ. While you might say George Bailey exemplifies Christ in his selflessness, we see that he eventually runs out of good will. George Bailey, like you and me, is worthless and incapable of saving himself. When the Holy Spirit reveals to us that we are made righteous by Christ only then do we understand our worth.
Christmas is a reminder to us that God reached down to us and lived among His creation. He was born a baby in a manger and became the only way for us to re-enter the divine community that Jeremy spoke about on Sunday. God loved us so much that while we sabotaged our utopia through the actions of Adam and Eve, he sent His son.
I will close with a line from a favorite Christmas carol, “long lay the world in sin and error pining ‘till He appeared and the soul felt its worth …” Remember John 3:16 this Christmas, God loved you so much that he sent that baby in the manger.