Christmas is coming! As the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”. It’s the time of the year when for many, we can put aside some of our petty differences and share some “Christmas cheer” with people around us. We seem to be a little bit more generous in donating to worth causes and needs. We see charitable organizations such as the Salvation Army bravely and heartily standing outside retail stores no matter the weather ringing the bells drawing attention to themselves and their red kettle for our donations. It’s come to be something so engrained in our culture that no one hardly questions who they are or why they are there anymore. That is, a wonderful thing.
The sad reality though is, while most people in our culture know the Salvation Army, know of their mission, and recognize their “Red Kettle” campaigns, do most of society truly understand what Christmas is? The significance behind it? It’s meaning? Is it just day that the world stops everything once a year? Is it a day where even Wal-Mart closes? Is it an event where retail spending goes more than slightly out of control with people buying more than they need for their family’s? Yes it is. Keep in mind that none of that is intrinsically bad. Giving is a good thing. It is good to give to our families. It is good to give to charities. What is not good though is our loss of the meaning and origins of Christmas.
What saddens me is that there are so many people throughout the world that celebrate the most famous birthday in the history of mankind, yet do not understand the Man who’s very birthday is celebrated. Furthermore they don’t even have a clue as to what Jesus’s mission was and His importance to all mankind. At worst, people will deny that Jesus ever existed. Some may say well Jesus existed and was a nice guy who taught us to not judge and to love but that’s it. And some may fully understand Jesus’s role in God’s plan of Salvation for us all.
I am a man who spent the better half of my life (to date) not understanding and totally getting what it was that Jesus did for us all. Once I did, I knew that God was calling me to reach out to those who were like me. Lost Christians. Lukewarm Christians. Some of you may not go to church anymore. Some may only set foot inside a church for a funeral or wedding. Maybe the occasional Christmas or Easter. Why? It’s great that you are there for those events, but why not the other 51 weekends a year? For me years ago it was not really a doctrinal issues that kept me from going to church on Sunday’s. I just was too lazy to go. Faith wasn’t a priority in life. But as going to church on Sunday became less and less of a priority, I became more and more of a priority in my life. My relationship with God was all about me. It wasn’t about God. It wasn’t about knowing, loving, and serving him.
I expected and demanded God to serve me. To the point that I looked at God as a big vending machine in the sky. Only going to him in times of trouble when I wanted something. Never asking what it was that He wanted of me. Who of you do that? Do you ever just pray by listening? Prayer is more than just asking, it’s also listening to what is being asked of you too! My life was an empty shell then compared to what it is now. I tried to fill those holes in life with all sorts of things that weren’t of God. Those things didn’t do anything for me other than to drive me to more sin. It wasn’t until I “got it”, that I understood who and who the Triune God really is, did I understand who I was. It was then when I first understood the freedom of being a faithful Christian really meant. Yes, along the way I have lost my way on more than one occasion. But that’s one of the joys of being a Christian, each time we lose our way we can go back and God will forgive us. And when we receive that forgiveness we find ourselves totally free of sin once again. Made possible by Jesus, the man who’s birth the entire world stops and celebrates every year.
The Bible is full of God’s love spoken to us in the language of love. In the language of a bride and groom. Who here wouldn’t want our spouse to have the faithfulness, the attentiveness, the unconditional love and devotion that God has for us? Who here can say though their spouse would want the lack of attentiveness, lack of faithfulness, of unconditional love and devotion that we do not give God? Would it be right to give our spouse love, devotion, and attention on only one day a year? On only one day of the week? Do we not live our lives for our spouse? In an “all about me” society it’s no wonder that over half of marriages fail. To love a spouse is to love them everyday in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, (sound familiar)? To love God is it not the same, only more?
Just one more thing: Sometimes marriages hit rocky ground and we have are given the chance to “fall in love” all over again. We can do that every time we turn ourselves back to Jesus. As Christmas approaches and we celebrate Jesus coming into the world for us, let’s remember why, to pay for the wages of sin, something that is impossible for us to do ourselves. Doing so out of love. All he ever asks us to do is to say yes and live our lives for him. Just like we say yes to our spouse and live our lives for them.