Lately, Christmas is hard to miss. In fact, just after Halloween, the stores in town start hauling out the Christmas candy, decorations, and gift ideas. Apparently Thanksgiving is just a bump in the road to Christmas these days!
Although we’re inundated with Christmas tunes on the radio and decorations galore at the store, Christmas over 2,000 years ago had very little spectacle and flare. In fact, our Christmas of today and the Christmas of then could not be more different. Yes, there was certainly chaos, confusion, and stress for the little family at the center of the story, however this blessed and momentous occasion came and went, and except for a few unlikely guests, most people passed the night without any knowledge that the Savior of the world had come to Earth.
Can you imagine that something so monumental was so inconsequential at the time. Jesus came, and although few had foretold this event and many had been waiting for him, very few noticed his arrival.
Of course, that singular, and seemingly insignificant night would change the world as we know it forever.
So how has it changed you? You can find that out by answering the very questions that came to light with Jesus’ birth and subsequent death. They are:
· What are you living for?
· Who are you living for?
· What is your response to the manger?
They are seemingly innocent and simple questions, right? But the answers are important and can change the way you operate.
Jesus came to call us to live for the very purposes of God: “to seek and save the lost”, to minister to the needy and to reconcile people to God. We have been called to simply love God and illustrated that love to others by sharing the Gospel. Easy-Peasy right? Not really.
There are lots of competing offers out there. We are asked to live for our job, our mate, our friends and family, our habits, our greed, our desires… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In today’s world, we are bombarded with a multitude of things to live for and Christ, well sometimes he gets the short end of the stick. We have pushed God out of almost every aspect of our lives: our schools, our courts, our families, our sporting events and even our Christmas. Instead of living for God, we mold God into a small portion of our lives and then wonder why it’s not working out as well as we thought it would!
The second question is “Who are you living for?” I remember sitting by the Christmas tree as a child and pawing at the gifts. Shaking one box here, squeezing another one there. Christmas was all about me! It was about what I wanted and what I was going to receive. Many of us live our daily lives the same way. Every opportunity that presents itself to us is received with the question, “What’s in it for me and ow is this going to further MY hopes, MY dreams?”
Now imagine if we tweaked that question just a little bit and asked our “wonderful counselor” what’s in it for Him and what are His hopes and dreams for us?” What kinds of answers would we get?
When we live for and serve God, things change. Our perception for others becomes softer. We are kinder, our hearts are open, and our mouths are filled with words of love and affirmation. We stop looking inward and start giving outward.
Finally, what is your response to the manger? Are you willing to give yourself to Christ? Are you willing to heed his call and love Him with all your heart and allow your actions to mimic that love for others?
This Christmas, ask yourself these questions and do a little soul searching. We need more people listening to our “Wonderful Counselor and our Prince of Peace” and influencing others to do the same.
I hope you’ll join me in this cause in the New Year.