Saturday, December 21, 2013

Have you Lost Jesus?



"The War on Christmas Wages" by Steve Strang has brought some important viewpoints and I completely agree to what he says: For instance, you can't say "Merry Christmas" at school or the office anymore, but only "Happy Holidays"; you can't go caroling in public; if you put up a tree for decoration, it must be called a "friendship tree," not a Christmas tree. He reported that Santa Claus was banned from one school in Kansas and that in Plano, Texas, some overzealous school board officials actually told parents they couldn't use red and green to decorate!

In contrast, non-Christian holidays such as Hanukkah, Ramadan and Kwanzaa don't face persecution. Can you imagine forcing Jewish people to call the Chanukiah (a menorah-looking 9-candle symbol of the miracle commemorated in Hanukkah) a "holiday candelabra" to avoid offending non-Jews?

Through the years, Christians themselves have often downplayed Christmas. Celebrating it is certainly not a scriptural tradition. And many believers have objected to the secularism, commercialism and materialism that generally accompany the holiday.

Now the question isn't whether Christmas has become too secular or commercial but whether it's OK to mention it. To the liberal secularists, even the commercial version is objectionable because it has Christian roots. In their view, that makes it religious, and all religion should be forbidden from the public square.

In light of the current cultural climate, are we willing to take a stand?

There are many ways to do this. If Christmas is under fire in your community, speak up. And if the officials won’t back down, work to defeat them at the next election. Replace them with officials who share your values—or run for office yourself.

And why can’t churches lead the way in celebrating Christmas? Who cares if the city government won’t put a crèche on the front lawn of city hall? With so many churches around, why shouldn’t each one have a nice display about the real meaning of Christmas? That way we won’t have to add a reindeer or some other nonreligious object to a nativity scene on city property simply to make it legal.

Why couldn’t Christian businesspeople get involved? We still have freedom of speech, so why don’t we put up signs saying “Jesus Is the Reason for the Season” or “Wise Men Still Seek Him”?

Each of us can erect displays on our lawns at home too. Instead of putting up only lights or snowmen in our yards to make them festive, let’s put up displays that are a witness to our faith in Christ.

One thing is certain: With so much darkness surrounding us, even one small light can make a huge difference.

The Bible tells us to be light in a dark world (Matt. 5:16; Phil. 2:15). Ultimately, that is why Christ came to earth—and He is looking for us to follow suit.

If you were asked, "Why do you celebrate Christmas?" how would you respond? Many would say Christmas honors the birthday of Jesus. Others feel that Christmas is a good Christian family get-together. Many do it simply because they've always done it.

Christmas can appear tantalizing to the eye and ear. People appear happy, generous, full of good cheer. Twinkling lights decorate many houses. Santa Claus and his reindeer are pictured as poised to lift off from snow-covered front yards or rooftops, although in the southern hemisphere and tropics there is no December snow. The colorful, peaceful-appearing Christmas scene can be intoxicating, addicting.

Shoppers pack stores, browsing for gifts they hope to buy at bargain-basement prices. Soaring strains of "White Christmas," "Silent Night" or "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" resonate everywhere.

The December weather of the northern hemisphere might be frightful outside, but the feeling and warmth inside is delightful. Christmas trees with twinkling lights and bright, sparkling ornaments create a mystical and glowing environment. Entire families want to experience the special mystery that only comes with the Christmas season. There is no religious holiday quite like it for the millions everywhere who observe it.

That brings us to the most important topic...

Have You Lost Jesus?      

                        Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
—James 4:8

Apparently it has become a national trend to steal baby Jesus figures from outdoor Nativity scenes. The problem has become so pervasive that churches are now placing GPS tracking devices inside their baby Jesus figures. The approach seems to be working. One church in Old Bridge, New Jersey, reported, "There's been no attempt of theft since we announced that we're tracking our Jesus."

The good news is that the real Jesus cannot be stolen. However, this is a time of year when we can lose Jesus. How ironic that it happens at the very time when we should be celebrating His birth.

We rush around like crazy people, especially during this season. You could inscribe these words on the tombstones of many Americans: hurried, worried, buried. We are the only nation on earth that actually has a national monument called Mount Rushmore. And we can be so busy that we don't have time for God. I would like go to church, but I am so busy this time of the year. . . . I would like to pray, but there's so much going on—so many responsibilities. . . . I would like to invest in the kingdom of God, but I have other financial commitments. People are so preoccupied with their lives and what they are doing that they don't have any time for God.

I think it is because people don't have time for Jesus that so many are depressed during the Christmas season. People have a romanticized idea of what Christmas ought to be, and when they look at their lives, they are not anywhere close to their ideal. They are expecting Christmas to do what only Christ can do. But if we will make time for Him, then He certainly will have time for us. (1)


(1)  Greg Laurie "Have You Lost Jesus?" -- Harvest Daily Devotion


Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju


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