Things are actually just black and white, when you get to the centre of it. The pure forms of either may never be seen in the world. That which we do see may contain such a mixture of good and evil that everything seems just grey. Still, at heart, there is a fundamental and irreconcilable split between good and evil and it this that makes us, and the world, the way we are. Or at least that is what the Bible seems to tell us.
What is good, is good because it is in some way an image of God. What is evil is so because it is separate from God. The nature of God is reflected in laughter, the climax of a great symphony, the company of good friends. Pain, suffering and despair are all tastes of the absence of God, a reminder of the corruption the Devil introduced into the world.
God is completely Good and pure, by the definition of these words. This means that He cannot come into contact with anything impure or Evil, in the same way as two like poles of a magnet will always repel. A human who saw the full glory of God would die instantly – and in the Old Testament there are many accounts of this.
This means that we, as human beings, are in serious trouble. There are actions that we all do every day, things that the Bible calls ‘sin’ – things which are opposed to God , and so taint us with a portion of evil. This means that none of us can ever exist in the state we were always meant to be; in the presence of God, in paradise. We are cursed to be forever exiled from the one place that is our true home. This longing for something half-glimpsed, sometimes, but unknown and unattainable, leaves its mark on every person and every age.
Worse than this, if we die, and leave this world, which for all the suffering and pain it includes was originally made perfect, then what is to become of us? The Bible implies that we do not simply cease to exist after death. What happens, then? God knows, literally, but one thing is clear. As we are impure, we can never enter the presence of God. In this world something of God can still be found, but in the next it follows that we must be eternally separated from God. Whether or not Hell is anything more than this, I do not know, but to spend eternity with nothing that is good, and everything that is evil in this world would be unthinkable even without any further punishment.
So as we are, we are born, we will live out our lives in this corruption of a perfect world, we will die. Everything good in life will die with us, everything evil will remain without relief for eternity. There is no bleaker picture than this of our existence.
Yet if there is any one thing in this world that shows the nature of God more than anything else, it is love. God created us, and does not wish his creations to endure such a fate. Therefore he came up with a solution, a way in which we could avoid this doom, and in fact spend eternity as we were always intended to, in heaven. The first Christmas was the place that this plan was put into action.
God sent down part of himself in human form: Jesus. As a man, Jesus knew suffering and temptation, but as God, he did not give in to it. In the Old Testament, forgiveness from sin was secured for the whole Jewish Nation once a year, by the sacrifice of a lamb, on Passover. As a man who had never given into temptation and was therefore completely pure, Jesus was a sacrifice potent enough to remove the sins of every person who had ever lived. On Passover, almost two thousand years ago, he was crucified to perform this sacrifice. He took the pain and torture that should have fallen on us onto himself, and in doing so removed our corruption, enabling us to be with God in heaven.
No human could live a life entirely free from wrong, so no human, no matter how good, or kind, or virtuous, could ever escape hell by their own efforts. Only through accepting the sacrifice of God’s son can we ever return to God’s side, the place humans were always meant to be. Without Christmas, there would be no hope for us at all. That is why Christians celebrate Christmas.