Lesson 4 -- first quarter 2008
December 23, 2007
© Copyright 2007
Christmas. For most of us, this means a surge in things to do and places to go. We've got family reunions, meals and activities. We also have school and church Christmas programs. We might even squeeze in a community event or two. Of course we can go caroling. Oh, and we must get to all that shopping and gift wrapping, plus cards and letters, and maybe a family portrait to circulate.
Christmas. For some of us, this also means a concerted effort to resist that surge in things to do and places to go. Some choose to minimize Christmas in their lives; others simply reject Christmas activities altogether. Most take this stance due to the godless commercialization of the holiday or to its pagan origins.
Whether we somehow observe the holiday (or whatever you prefer to call it) or whether we turn our backs on it to one degree or another, we must regard it or not regard it to the Lord (Romans 14:6). We all need to ask ourselves, "What does Jesus want me to do for Christmas?" After all, as far as we're concerned, this is supposed to be about Him.
I think we could get some ideas from the Scriptures. So since Christmas is supposed to remind us of His first coming, let's consider some reasons He gave for His coming to earth.
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Our Christmas activities should be especially geared toward abundant living. In fact, we could also say that these activities should result from that abundant life which Jesus has given us. (Let's keep in mind that an abundance of stuff and activities is not synonymous with abundant living!)
"The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). Amidst all the celebrations, gifts, parties, merrymaking, pretty lights, programs, joyful carols, shopping and whatnot there are thousands of lost souls. Jesus came to seek and save such; do our activities take that into account?
"I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (John 5:30). Jesus' statement of surrender to the will of the Father didn't happen for the first time in the Garden of Gethsemane. His whole life was a statement of surrender. He came to seek the Father's will and do it! Though Christmas isn't the only time to do God's will, it does seem an especially pointed time to do so.
"I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness" (John 12:46). We see the darkness around us all the time. We might even be particularly aware of it during a holiday that's supposed to be about the Light of the world. We can bemoan and shake our heads at the darkness, trim our lamps, and huddle together under our bushels, enjoying our programs and fellowship. Or we can sally forth into the highway and the byway and even the superhighway to shine our lights in the darkness of the world.
So, what are you doing for Christmas?
After centuries and millennia of telling mankind about His love and showing mankind His love in various ways, God sent His Son. And thus "was manifested the love of God toward us" (1 John 4:9). Any view of the Incarnation that does not focus on this truth cheapens the whole purpose of God and mission of the Son. Jesus came! And the love of God "dwelt among us." Jesus came! And the Word revealed God's love toward us.
Do you see any problem here? I do. And that problem seems quite significant to me: The Word, as flesh, no longer dwells among us! Too bad for us that we came along about 2000 years "too late"? Too bad for the world that they can no longer see the living manifestation of God's love? No!
I believe the Word still dwells among us. Because He dwells in us. Can you accept that? Pretty tough sometimes, I know, because it means that as I look around a roomful of Christians I see exactly where the Word dwells among us. And some of these Christians...well, you know what I mean.
So let me ask you another question. Since the Word still dwells among us by dwelling in us, can the unbelieving world say, "Herein was manifested the love of God toward us"? Or to consider it from another angle, are you a manifestation of God's love towards all of those around you?
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