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Christmas Kindness

Joseph Tkach is a fine theologian and leader, whose writings I greatly enjoy.  Here is a recent note that I greatly appreciated and am happy to share with my blog readers.

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Now that Halloween and Thanksgiving are behind us, our national attention has turned toward Christmas. Everywhere we look, Christmas is there, dominating television, magazine and newspaper advertising, themes of TV and radio programming, and displays in stores.

Christmas has become a major holiday even in countries where Christianity is
not the majority religion, and where people have no idea of its religious
significance. Yet in our increasingly secular but still nominally Christian
Western world, the commercial and social traditions often smother the fact that
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. People may know very little about who
Jesus is, but they do enjoy a holiday where the emphasis is on fun, family and
friends.

Some of us might find ourselves a bit irritated that it is now more politically
correct to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” so as to avoid
offending unbelievers. I know I sometimes do. But maybe there is another way of
looking at that.

After all, Jesus was born to be the Savior of all humankind, past, present and
future. When he was born, the angel announced to the shepherds, “Do not be
afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people”
(Luke 2:10). The arrival of the Son of God into the world as a human like us is
good news for everybody, even for those who don’t know it yet. “He is the
atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of
the whole world,” we’re told in 1 John 2:2.

The Bible is God’s witness to his redemption of the whole world through
his Son. Luke tells us of the two men Jesus met on the road to Emmaus after his
crucifixion and resurrection, “Then he opened their minds so they could understand
the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of
sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You
are witnesses of these things’” (Luke 24:45-48).

The Bible is not about some new and better religion—some new formula to show
humans what things to do and not to do in order to get on his good side. It is
about who Jesus Christ is and what he has done to redeem and heal humanity. God
himself has already done through Jesus everything necessary for human
salvation. Jesus has defeated and forgiven all sin, including yours and mine.

But most of us still find ourselves feeling as though we are the ones
who have to conquer sin. We feel we have to be overcomers or God won’t
love us. But what the gospel tells us is that we are overcomers only in
Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1-3). God’s acceptance of us is not based on how well we
behave or on such things as how religiously we keep Christmas. God accepts us
because he loves us and wants to accept us (Ephesians 2:4-5).

God dealt with our sin by the blood and the resurrection and ascension of
Jesus, not by giving us a new and improved law code. We are justified because
God justified us himself, personally, through his Son. God did for us in Christ
what we could not do for ourselves, and he calls on us to trust him to
be our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30). That’s good news! And as the angel
told the shepherds, it is nothing to be afraid of (Luke 2:10).

So perhaps we should relax about the way “the world” keeps Christmas. They may
not fully understand, but they do associate the holiday with love, joy and
generosity. It is a season of good will, however imperfectly it is expressed.
It is a time when people get together with family and friends, when even wars
pause, and when people spend time and money helping those less fortunate than
themselves.

Instead of grousing about the way the world keeps Christmas, maybe we, as
Christians, could just continue to show how we understand it – not by
judging others, but by finding ways to help make it a season of joy for someone
in need.

Tough economic times are leaving many families in need. Christmas is a time
that symbolizes the great day when all things will be made right, so why not
give others, as we are able, at least a small taste of that hope during this
season?

 

 

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