Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Something to Believe In

We’ve been watching a lot of Christmas movies around here lately.  Seems there’s always one on television, and my daughter is a sap for these things, and when she gets the blankets and popcorn and Christmas lights all going and curls up to watch a nostalgic movie about Christmas, well I have to admit it’s kind of hard to resist.

We were watching one which had a serious, hard, militant high school principal in it who was pretty cold to the whole Christmas thing.  But when she was taken for a sleigh ride down a beautifully tree-lit street in lightly falling snow, she poured her heart out about Christmas, and with an unquenched longing she explained her Christmas ache, “Everyone is looking for something to believe in.”  Yes, it’s all so corny, I get that.  But isn’t that the essence of every Christmas movie ever made?
Isn’t that the essence behind Christmas for the majority of North American’s?  That everyone is looking for something to believe in?  And so we build, and spend, and decorate, and anticipate, and travel to great lengths to return to family, glorify the day, and make it into something with our own hands and efforts to please the ones we love, to give them that nostalgic something to cling to - that something to believe in.  
And we come up empty.  Every time. 
And next year, we build it a little bigger, spend a little more,  anticipate a little sooner, glorify the day a little larger, and make it into something even more spectacular than last year with our own hands and efforts to please the ones we love.  And we get exhausted, and stressed out and in debt.
And still we come up empty.  Every time. 
There is a verse in the Bible that reminds me of this cycle of Christmas, North American style.  “Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.  Ecc. 2:17 
The wind can’t be grasped.  Neither can the ‘spirit of Christmas’, yet we weary and distress ourselves as we try so hard to take hold of it.  Why do we do it?  Because everyone is looking for something to believe in. 
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  It is the time of year when Christians reflect on the Lord’s humble birth, obedient life, sacrificial death, glorious resurrection, and anticipate His eventual and sure return.  Christmas is Jesus Christ, Son of God.
Why did God work His plan to redeem His creation in this way?  Well, no one but God can answer that, but He does give us the outcome He’s looking for, the purpose of His plan:  that we would believe in Him.
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book, but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31
It’s simple really.  Simply believe that Jesus is the Christ.  And by believing, you will have life in His name. 
Yet it’s difficult.  Because believing is just such an easy thing.   Believing requires surrender and a change of our mind and ways.  And we like to do things our way, have our hand in it somehow, put effort toward it, have some claim to it, ownership in it; we like to be responsible for it somehow.  Simply believing just doesn’t fit with our need to be in control. 
And so we keep looking.  Yet we never find.   We work, we build, we go to any length to fill that longing that is in our very soul.  We do it all year long, but the crowning of our efforts and labor comes with each Christmas season as filling reaches its peak, yet doesn’t satisfy and we enter a new year empty. And weary.
I used to do Christmas this way.  It was only about three years ago that things changed for me.  Even after I was saved, Christmas was still very materialistic and mostly empty.  I never really understood why, but now I know it is because I was building Christmas, making it the way I thought it should be with my own hands.  When I finally let go, Christmas became something much more.
There is rest from this weariness.  It’s found in Jesus, and only Him.  He says to those tired of the burden of the requirements of religion (that of doing to fill the void in your soul, rule following, having your hand in redemption and eternal life): “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give your rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matt. 11:28-30
Are you lost and weary and looking for something to believe in this Christmas?  Jesus is giving you this invitation, even now, “Come to Me”.  So that you may believe in Him, and by believing you may have life.
Are you a Christian?  Brother or sister, the world is looking for something to believe in.   Let us point them to the only One who can satisfy: Jesus Christ, who 2,000 years ago,
"being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  Phil 2:6-11






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