Archive for December 13th, 2008

 What are you focusing on this Christmas?  Even if your focus is noble it is at least harried with distractions of life in general and the Season especially.  Temptations to distraction were part of Christ’s earthly stay as well, but He was above the frey.  Consider His purpose and priority:

Why did Jesus come to the manger?  Why was this child special above all others?  Why do people both admire His life and dismiss much of what He taught?  The angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14).  They are certainly good words and true, but they are lacking as a purpose statement.  How will these two great goals be accomplished and how will we know when they are?  The angel’s declaration to Joseph is more specific: “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).  But what are sins?  And what does it mean to be saved from sins?

            Many people want to strip the true meaning of Jesus’ coming by saying what we need is political salvation.  Those following Him believed He would set things straight, seen by the fact that when “He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately” (Luke 19:11).  But Jesus said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).  Others think the salvation we need is rescue from poverty or prejudice, but Jesus said, “The poor you have with you always” (Matthew 26:11).  It was not that He did not care for the poor, for He said things like “when you give a reception, invite the poor…” (Luke 14:13).  Instead, He had a narrower purpose and a higher priority on this trip to Earth.

            Just before He left His disciples to return to heaven He explained His purpose succinctly, noting its agreement with previous Scripture, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations” (Luke 24:46-47).  This was not plan B after the crowds and religious leaders rejected Him.  He had been trying to explain it to His disciple frequently, but they didn’t get it.  “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things…and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Matthew 16:21).  Of what benefit is this “forgiveness of sins”?   “He died for all so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” and “God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Corinthians 5:15,18-19).  That’s salvation.  We can have a relationship with God.  Our problems are not political or poverty or prejudice or disease or war or hatred.  Our problem is separation from God.

            As I listened to Charles Colson in Charlotte recently He stated the case so clearly, “Only the gospel will change people.”  He quoted a Russian proverb that Solzhenitsyn used to say, “Men have forgotten God, that’s why this happened.”  Regardless of whether we have allowed falsehoods to seep in or turned all belief in God on its head Colson said, “False worldviews bring disaster.”  He continued by stating what he calls “Colson’s Law: Politics is how we organize our common lives together which is a reflection of our culture shaped by religion incarnate.”  Or to see the cause and effect more clearly:  Practical religion results in culture which results in politics.  We have strayed so far from true belief in God by embracing a soft babe in manger who will solve poverty and prejudice and political turmoil and bring peace.  Peace begins in the heart reconciled to God through belief in what Jesus did on the cross.

            One way my family remembers that at Christmas is a non-traditional advent wreath beginning with a red candle for the blood of Christ which we call the “Savior” candle.  We read prophecies about Him coming to save His people and sing one song of the cross before we begin Christmas carols.  My prayer for this Christmas season is that you would refocus on the forgiveness and reconciliation you have in Christ and how to bring it to others or if you have not yet known Him you will turn away from sin and trust Jesus as your Savior.  He is the Source of peace and reconciliation and the beginning of restoration.








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