Archive for November, 2007
The Christmas season is here and I already hear some of the Christian community beginning the annual discussions. Who took the Christ out of Christmas? Or, “Jesus: the reason for the season”. So maybe it is time for a few reflections about this time of year. I do not think that most people view Christmas as a religious holiday. After all, most people are not really Christian. I know that most of the world sing the religious songs (Silent Night, Away in a Manger, O Holy Night), and many people go to church the Sunday before Christmas (second in attendance only to Easter). We even see lots of manger scenes and hear talk about baby Jesus and his birthday.
I am afraid that it becomes very easy and convenient to focus on the Christ in Christmas and then live like every one else the rest of the year. Christianity is not the celebration of a season, but a commitment to a lifestyle. We are about peace on earth, giving and family every day of the year. Maybe Christians are the ones that do not need to celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. Jesus is the reason for December 25, and July 12, and March 5, and September 22, and every day of my life as a Christian. Celebrating a birthday does not make a family. The other 364 days together make a family.
The real good news for our world is not that we should celebrate this special time of thinking about Jesus, but to hear that Christmas is just one of a lifetime of days to celebrate. And if the world is thinking about Jesus during this time, then we have even more opportunities to testify to the real good news.
So will I think about Jesus this Christmas? Yes I will; just like I will think about him and celebrate his life, death, and resurrection every day till he comes back to take me home. If you want to make Christmas a religious holiday, be sure it is not the only time you celebrate Jesus.
So what do you think? Does the celebrating of Christmas as a religious holiday help you want to know more about Jesus?
Viktor Frankl was a Jew living in Nazi Germany. He was arrested and sent to a Nazi death camp. There he watched men live in inhuman conditions, saw many stronger than he wither and die, and learned lessons about survival. One of the key things he observed was the power of hope. Those who had hope could survive almost anything; those who didn’t died. As Frankl put it, “The prisoner who had lost faith in the future – his future – was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay.”
At HopeforLife.com, we believe that there is hope. We believe that it not only exists, but that it can be found. We know because we’ve found it and know many others who have as well. The hope that we have found comes from God, the source of all true hope. Others fall short: dreams of power, wishes for pleasure, longings for riches. None of those can transcend this life and reach beyond the grave. Only God can give us a hope that will not fade, a hope that cannot be tarnished by death nor disease.
Jesus Christ came to this world to bring that hope to mankind. It’s not enough for hope to exist; it’s only when we are able to find it that it does us any good. Jesus came not only to embody hope, but also to give us something to hope in. Through him, we can hope to live forever. That life of hope can be lived now; Jesus made it possible for us to find, live in and share with others the same hope.
As human beings, we desperately need hope. This world is a cold, empty place without it. With hope, we can face any circumstance. The apostle Paul wrote, “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:12-13) Jesus Christ and the hope that he gives allow us to face every situation this life can offer.
What keeps you from having the hope that you’d like to have? What aspect of hope haven’t we touched on here? I’d like to hear your thoughts.
Grace and peace,
You climb 294 steps up a steep winding staircase; that is how you get to the top of the Bunker Hill monument. At first I thought it was amazing how the view from the top had these little black dots jumping all around. Then I realized something was not right. Shock of all shocks…I am out of shape. I should not be that way. I resolved to get in shape. Even better, I decided to do something great. I think I’ll run a marathon.
It is not as easy as I thought. The first day I got up to run, it was really too cold. The second day I was pretty tired from the day before. The third day I did not feel too well. Then one of my co-workers had a birthday so we had to have Cheesecake. I would have skipped it but I didn’t want to be rude. And it is embarrassing to be different than every one else.
I did, however, buy some really good running shoes. I even bought some nice workout clothes. They look good in the closet.
It strikes me that some of us treat our spiritual lives the same way. We have really good intentions, we even make really strong commitments, but the follow through is the tough part. There are always other things to get in the way. We have work responsibilities, family commitments, and there are only so many hours in a day. Temptations keep us from focusing on our goal.
Yet … we can still look like we are committed Christians. We go to church, act pretty well, and say the right things. But nothing really changes. Jesus did not die so we could play at our Christianity. His call is to die so we can live a new life.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live .but Christ, lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
It is radical! All out! Everything or nothing Christianity.
So what do you think? Is the demand for this kind of discipleship too much to expect?