Romans 15:13NIV “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
This morning, during prayers, it struck me how thankful I am to have the hope that I have, to know that God is greater than my sinful nature, to know that He has sent us His Son, to do for us what we in ourselves could never do.
Tomorrow is ChristmasDay, a day in which a lot of Christians throughout the world, celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, as foretold and promised within the Old Testament. God with us, in the flesh. And inspite of all the evil and terrible things that we see happening in this world, I am grateful that in all this apparent darkness, God’s light still shines and that we celebrate His birth.
It also struck me that God in His mercy, by sending us His Son, actually sent us a lifeline, to bring us back to Himself. Now a lifeline isdesigned to remove us from danger, save us from perishing and bring usback to safety. But if you don’t understand that you are in danger or that there is a need to grab hold of the lifeline, then even though the lifeline is there to save you, if you don’t take hold of it, the functional purpose of the lifeline is never realized.
John 3:16NIV tells us that “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.“
There is a danger associated with traditions, especially religious traditions. Jesus actually had a lot to say about religious human traditions when He addressed the errors of the Pharisees, one of the leading Jewish groups that were prevalentin Judaism, when Jesus ministered to the Jews in Jerusalem. And the danger is that we can easily lose sight of the objective that we are endeavouring to honour and become more focused on the activities that surround the specific event being commemorated. And our celebration of Christmas is no different. You’ll see this tendency being attempted to be offset by sayings such as “Keep Christ in Christmas” or “Jesus is the reason for the season”.
Jesus is not Santa Claus.
Jesus is not giving and receiving gifts.
Jesus is not a Christmas tree.
Jesus is not sharing a feast with family and friends.
Jesus is not singing Christmas carols.
Jesus is not attending a Christmas Church service.
Jesus is Jesus, the Son of God.
While all of these “traditions” are utilized to highlight specific attributes of who Jesus is and what He did, none of them are Him, they merely can or may point to Him. Problem being, we, like the Pharisees, can easily become more focused on the things that point to Him rather than the objective being honoured (Jesus).
I enjoy celebrating Christmas and all of the “traditions” associated with Christmas, but it is important to be very mindful of what these “traditions” point to and not lose sight of the purpose behind these “traditions” with Jesus Himself being the focal point of our acknowledgement.
The lifeline that God offers us is His Son. There is a reason why our Heavenly Father sent us His Son, namely our sinful or unholy nature which we, in and of ourselves are unable to change, separates us from God who is holy. The danger associated with this reality of our sinful nature is that if it remains as it is (unholy), we are destined to be excluded from God’s presence (perish). The “whoever believes in Him” part of John 3:16 refers to who Jesus is and what He accomplished on our behalf by dying on the cross for ours sins AND His resurrection from the dead, which is promised to all who believe in Him (our hope of eternal life). It also includes daily keeping Jesus as our Lord which entails keeping His commandments.
The reality of John 3:16 is more than meets the eye. The reality of celebrating Christmas is more than meets the eye. Understanding the difference between a superficial overview and the Biblical realities being conveyed isimportant. As in all things, balance is key.
A blessed and joyous Christmas to everyone!
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!