Monday, December 22, 2014

Where Would We Be Without Christmas?

Where would we be without Christmas?

This question was posed at church this weekend.  At Easter we emphasize the empty tomb but at Christmas the manger must be filled.  Both locations are vitally important.  Together they encompass the gospel - Jesus put on flesh, lived a sinless life, died for our sins and rose from the dead.  He qualified Himself to be our Redeemer by becoming man and He defeated death by raising from the grave. Both the filled manger and the empty grave are essential truths upon which our faith is built.

So here is my latest observation - we really do live in a world void of God. Oh, I know He's here and the only reason we can take the next breath is because He is alive and ever present.  But we live in a world that ignores God.  Ignore isn't even the right word - the world is filled with people who live without a second thought toward God.  Their lives are completely void of an awareness of God's presence, His deity, His will, His holiness, His activity, His precepts, His way and His hand.

Maybe this sounds obvious, but for some reason it's really hit me hard this past week.  I might just be a bit slow, but let me show you what I mean:
  • When's the last time you watched a sitcom that mentioned Jesus that wasn't in the context of swearing?
  • What about music?  How much secular music has no hint of God's presence or even a mention of His majesty?
  • Movies, books, magazines, websites - all filled with stories and information but no mention of the Creator or His goodness
  • Weathermen surely don't credit or thank God and news reporters don't mention Him, as well
  • Politicians make laws and policies without considering God and His law
  • Detective shows and mysteries only throw in religion to add to the mental instability of the suspect
Seriously, day after day after day people eat, drink, work, converse, think, decide, travel, create and cry without thinking about God.  This is such a strange truth for a believer because our first waking thought is of Jesus and the last words in our head are prayers of thanksgiving.  We meditate on scripture, talk about sermons, think "what would Jesus do?", listen to worship music and cry our troubles out to our Savior on a daily basis.  But life around us is operating completely void of God.

In essence, the world's manger is empty.

They don't understand the gospel and they don't see God when they look in the manger.  They don't see how that baby has anything to do with them and they aren't even sure it's a true story.  And they don't really even give it a thought, to be completely honest.

So this is bad enough, right?  But lately I've been noticing how many believers live as if the manger was empty as well.  We aren't thinking of Jesus when we awaken, we aren't spending any time in the Word, we can't remember what the pastor preached on the day before, we never consider what Jesus would do, we pride ourselves on knowing the top 40 and we worry about anything and everything - going to Jesus is a last resort because we're not sure He's really paying attention or cares anyway.

So now it's Christmas week.  We have a choice to make.  We can live as if the manger is empty and let this week fly by without even as much as a nod in the baby's direction, or we can celebrate the life that has been purchased for us because of the filled manger.  It's never too late to change our focus and start living the transformed life that Jesus paid for - like the Christmas gifts that sit under the tree, will we simply look at the beautiful wrapping or will we open and use them?

Remember, friends - we do what we do and we feel how we feel because we think what we think.  Let's set our minds on the manger this week and each of us answer the question - where would we be without Christmas? Pondering the answer can be life-changing.

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