What happens when there's no space for what God wants to do in our religious way of doing things?
What happens when our religion simply isn't big enough for God?
What happens when our religious ideas reject what the Spirit of God is doing?
This is the dilemma of the first Christmas, and the rest of the New Testament. Time and time again, God has had to lead people to rebel against the religious system in order to accomplish his will, because religion was actually starting to confine and constrict what God's will was.
Examples: John the Baptist is baptizing in the wilderness, trying to lead the Jewish people into repentance. At the same time, the Temple (the religious institution), was where people were supposed to go for the remission of sins. But God leads John to do something unorthodox because the religion that supposed to lead people to God wasn't doing it's job. Therefore God leads John the Baptist to break the rules of his religion in order to lead people into a relationship with Him
Jesus heals multiple people on the Sabbath. This is against Jewish law, and the Pharisees (the religious institution) try to kill Jesus because he's breaking the Jewish law. There was no room in their religion for God healing people that needed Him.
My personal favorite -- Acts 8:26-40. Philip baptizes a eunuch. According to Jewish law eunuchs were not to be baptized, and were defiled in God's sight. Philip, a Jew, knows this, but instead of following what his religion holds as right and true Philip follows the Spirit of God and leads this eunuch into a relationship with God,
The first Christmas follows the same storyline! According to Judaism, God is NOT supposed to be human. But God breaks all the rules, and John 1:14 tells us "the Word became flesh and blood". God is always a step ahead of us. That first Christmas He showed that He is a giver...a giver even of Himself. So in the spirit of Christmas, let God give you the gift of Himself -- in true, authentic, dangerous, vulnerable relationship. Scrap the religion!
What is your religion telling you? What do you believe simply because it's what your church or pastor or denomination holds to be true? That God doesn't speak to people? That you can't have a legitimate ministry because you're a woman? That God doesn't physically heal people? That 'speaking in tongues' isn't real? That really loud music is the only way to worship? That we shouldn't talk about Mary? That having correct theology is the most important thing? That you're not spiritual or saved enough to hear God's voice and know his will? That your pastor is closer to God than you are? You have to get married? You shouldn't get married?
Where have your religious ideas put God into a box?
This Christmas take that box, unwrap it, and allow God's gift of the Holy Spirit to break down your walls of religion, and give you a spirit that follows His, even if it's to territory your religion doesn't acknowledge as orthodox. This Christmas let God give you the gift of risk. The risk of relationship. You're not always going to get it right. Sometimes you'll think you heard the voice of God, and be wrong. But it's the raw beauty of relationship. This Christmas allow the Spirit of God to take you to heights in a relationship with Him that your religion can't contain. God is bigger than the rules we set up. He's bigger than your idea of Him. He's bigger than your agenda. He's bigger than your plans. He's bigger than your preferences about church. But God is only as big as you'll let Him be in your life.
Let God surprise you this Christmas...all you have to do is open the box.