We live within ourselves. Sometimes, by great personal effort or outside force, we can live outside ourselves. But then, it's often framed by other peoples' opinions of us. Their judgments tell us what to think, when to speak, how to feel, and where to act. We go outside ourselves for other peoples' endorsement of us even though we don't really value their opinions or judgments.
But, whether we push ourselves toward good or evil, or it's done to us by others, we do it because we want to feel like we're good enough. Are we good enough for God? What about the person who looks back at us from the mirror? Do other people consider us a good enough spouse, child, co-worker, friend, neighbor, or Christian?
We tend to reduce everything to this one question: "Am I good enough?" Our actions, moral choices, appearance, definitions of family and friendship are all defined by how we see ourselves in relation to the question, "Am I good enough?"
That means we're never satisfied. We're never convinced that our personal ethic, charitableness, and dedication to improving relationships is enough. We're secretly keeping score. We avoid confronting ourselves with the tough questions about motive and intent: "Why am I so polite?" "Why do I invest so much energy in developing a personal moral code?" "Why do I worry so much over my appearance?"
We avoid these questions because we already know the answers. "I'm scared because no matter how much I do, I'm never good enough." "I'm benevolent because I'm afraid I'll die alone and unloved." "Every one of my virtues holds back ten vices." "My appearance is intended to hide the ugliness of my frivolous heart."
However, it doesn't need to be this way with us. We don't have to hide in plain sight. What's true for one person is true for all of us. We're all slaves to the question: "Am I good enough?" You're all trying to avoid hearing the answer: "No, you're not good enough and you never will be!"
But, we don't have to be "good enough." We don't have to be good enough for God, other people, or ourselves. Jesus comes to us, a Son "is given unto us" so that we don't ever have to wonder whether we're good enough. Whether we're good enough or not isn't the point of life. It never was, and never will be.
Jesus comes and is born so that we can be relieved of the question and the answer. In their place is the proclamation of Christmas, which reaches to every corner of the universe and into the deepest depths of every human heart: "You were chosen by God in Christ from before the foundation of the world."
The Good News of Jesus, the glad tiding of great joy that comes to us at Christmas-time, is that we're not good enough, but that was never the point. The point has always been and always will be: "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." And according to God, that's always good enough for us. Jesus as Giver and gift in words, water, bread, and wine is good enough for us.
So now, Jesus isn't just "the reason for the season." He's the reason we don't have to worry over whether we're good enough. He's the reason we don't have to get frazzled about Christmas, temper our expectations of the holiday, and accept the limitations of our fears and anxieties about pulling off the perfect Christmas party. He's Emmanuel, the God who is with us always. The One who calls us "My beloved." The Savior who is born to crucify our sin-inflicted sorrow so that God can bury our pain and grief at not being good enough in a tomb about a twenty-minute walk from downtown Jerusalem.
This is the subtext of the good tidings of great joy we sing at Christmas-time. The backspin of the proclamation that "unto us, a child is born, unto us, a Son is given." Our wonderful Savior is born to embrace us in His grace and truth, all of us, the devastation and chaos and all the parts we try to avoid and ignore because we're afraid to confront ourselves with the question: "Am I good enough?"
The answer, by the way, is always "No, we're not good enough, and that's good news." It's good news because God never meant for us to live with "good enough." He created and redeemed us to live in the good news that, "You were chosen by God in Christ from before the foundation of the world."