As I sit here, I’m conflicted on what subject to talk about today. One part of me wants to tackle the sorrowful episode that happened last Friday in Newtown, Conn. The other part of me wants to talk about the joy of Christmas. All the while I’m fighting the urge to turn off the computer, forget about writing and just get down on my face before the Lord.
Originally my thoughts were centered on the extreme shock and pain I felt one week ago. It tore my heart in two hearing that 26 families would not be celebrating Christmas, but holding funerals instead. They said goodbye that morning like every day before, not knowing it was their last. How short life is.
On that same thread, it occurred to me that the tragic incident seems more magnified because so many children perished. But, tragedy strikes every day in this country, in this world; we may not witness it on a daily basis via the media, yet it should be just as horrifying.
Terrible acts happen all the time and many question why. The truth is we live in a fallen world. And while we can’t see it with the naked eye, there is a spiritual warfare going on all around us. The battle is not with flesh and bone, and it has been going on since way before you and I ever came onto the scene (Ephesians 6:12).
When people commit violence, they are — for lack of better terminology —possessed by the devil. Let me explain. The Lord says you cannot serve two masters. So either you serve Him or you serve the devil (Matthew 6:23-24). There is no middle ground, no straddling the proverbial fence, no shades of gray. Likewise, if you are filled with the Spirit, then the devil can’t inhabit space that is full.
The Lord knew in the beginning that humankind would implode on itself, that there would be a need for a Savior (John 3:16). That is where the hope of Christmas comes in.
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’” — Luke 2:10-11
We know history tells us Jesus Christ wasn’t born in winter, but the day we call Christmas has come to symbolize the celebration of His arrival on Earth. Christ’s birth gave our lives purpose and His death and resurrection 33 years later paid the debt we owed for our wicked nature.
Christmas is much more than trees, glowing lights and gifts. It shouldn’t cause stress, pain and more stress. The holiday has become so commercialized, saturated with expectation and soaked in superficial seasonal slime, few look forward to it because it fills them with dread of debt and depression.
It is time to strip it all away and get back to the basics. And the basics include remembering why we have Christmas Day. It is named for Christ, who is the Savior.
Christmas means more than just believing there is a God or believing in God. You have to believe God. This means you believe He sent His Son to serve as the bridge between Him and us. This means you believe His Son is the only way to Him. This means you believe His Word from cover to cover, which guides you to listen, obey and commit to Him.
Again, the Lord is pretty straightforward in His Word. You can’t just attend church the weekend of Christmas to absolve yourself of the year’s sin. You can’t just express the spirit of good cheer the month of December and return to your grouchy, mean self in the 11 months following. You can’t just show a unified front because of tragedy for a few days and then be divided weeks later.
Truly believing God leads to a change of heart from the inside out. It takes you into a personal, intimate relationship with Him through His Son. And that gives you reason to find hope all year round.
Are you settling for “happy holidays?” Or will you be having a “merry Christmas?”
Follow Ruth Ann Replogle on Facebook at http://www.face book.com/pages/Just-Hold-On/419800328081972 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.