This is Christmas!

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’” -Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Mary Did You Know?”, written by Mark Lowry. In this song, the tender Google+Photomoment of Mary holding the newborn Jesus is placed into perspective in light of who He is and is destined to be. His mission to redeem humanity from sin is illustrated in the final line of the first verse; “This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.”, and concludes with a powerful line describing His divine nature; “This sleeping child you’re holding, is the Great I Am.” The entire song essentially summarizes why every year Christians all over the world take great joy and celebration on this day. It marks the entrance of hope into a world of darkness; the hope that through Christ will come man’s deliverance from sin and despair.

What is the true meaning of Christmas? Over two thousand years later, it has become saturated by an excessive consumerism; exploited by those who are obsessed with gaining wealth and prestige. Yet while we know that this rampant materialism has failed to attach meaning to Christmas, we try to find its meaning elsewhere. One place is in the warmth and joy spent with family and friends. But though this is important and good, it is not the reason why Christmas is celebrated. We may even pay a nominal acceptance of the fact that it is about Christ and erect our Nativity scenes depicting baby Jesus. However, unless we have gone beyond the image of the infant Christ, have understood the true purpose of His coming down to Earth, and have personally allowed His Spirit to carry out His restorative work in our lives, the celebrations of Christmas hold no meaning. To truly celebrate Christmas is to dwell in the joy of knowing that on this day our Savior, Jesus Christ was born. In His infinite love He had one sole purpose; to save humanity through His death and to give us life through His resurrection. Outside of Christ there can be no other meaning to Christmas. No other substitute will be able to match the glory of Christ’s entry into the world, and the implications it has for all mankind.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Debunking the Propaganda

“In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” -Psalm 56:11 (NIV)

Throughout human history those who have exercised absolute power have always made extensive use of propaganda.Google+Photo From the time of the Pharaohs to the totalitarian dictators of the present day, its purpose has remained the same. By portraying the limitless power and infallibility of a leader or party, the object of propaganda is to instill awe and fear in the hearts of the people. In doing so, they lessen the chances of disgruntled citizens questioning and rising up against the will of those in control. But while statues and broadcasts may try to appear convincing in the depiction of their subject’s godlike status, the fact is that they are not. In reality, the figures which propaganda tries to elevate are very much human; suffering from the same limitations and flaws as any other person.

We too have fed ourselves false propaganda. How often have we cowered before men? In our minds we have exaggerated their power and abilities over us. Yet when we have constructed this image in our minds, we become paralyzed with fear. Afraid of what may happen to us if we take a stand for something they are not in favor of, we become immobilized; unable to boldly proclaim the righteousness and justice of Christ. But how can this be when we serve an omnipotent God? Why do we fear men when Christ, who is God Incarnate and who gave man breath, promises to be our stronghold and fortress when we walk in obedience to Him? Through Him we have conquered those diseases that plague man, sin and death, and assured of the hope of dwelling with Him in Heaven. Who therefore is man that we should allow them to intimidate us? When we have allowed Christ’s Spirit to reside within us and look through His eyes, we will be able to see people as they really are; not as invincible supermen, but souls in desperate need of salvation just as much as ourselves. He will give us the courage to speak fearlessly His truth no matter the audience and no matter the cost.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Occupied By Little Games

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” -1 John 3:17 (NIV)

“The Night They Burned Shanghai” is a poem written in 1938 by Robert D. Abrahams. It describes an American Google+Photocouple in Philadelphia set amidst the backdrop of the Battle of Shanghai, one of the bloodiest battles of the Second Sino-Japanese War. As the beautiful Chinese city is under relentless assault at the hands of the Japanese military, the couple, far away from the unfolding carnage, are on their way to play cards at the house of a friend. As they drive, the couple talks about how next year they will consider the affairs of the world; how they will travel and “…fight for ancient liberties…” outside their relatively comfortable circle.

What is tragic about this poem is that the couple also plans to travel to Shanghai at some point. But with a hint of indifference in their voice they say “…they’re burning that tonight – And not tonight – we have a date tonight,” When the couple reach the house, their host laments about the mess the Far East has become, and while they nod in agreement, they become absorbed in their game of cards without giving Shanghai a second thought.

Too often, when we are blessed with all the pleasures and comforts man can ask for, we forget that we live in a world full of suffering. Though we may pay a token acknowledgement to those who are in the pit of despair, we rarely lift a finger to do anything about it. Our unwillingness to make a difference in this world may stem from the fact that we do not want to sacrifice the life of ease we have created, and disturb the routine we have grown accustomed to. But if we claim ourselves to be infused with the love of Christ, such indifference cannot co-exist within our souls at the same time. Christ is God Incarnate; the Lord of Heaven and Earth. Yet despite His position He dwelt among us in human form, with all the limitations that entails, so that He may save humanity from sin through His death on the cross. His love disregards the self; seeking only to bring restoration and healing to the lives of others. Do we have His love overflowing from our hearts? If we remain calloused to the world around us, not only have we failed to be obedient to the Spirit of Christ residing within us, but we will encounter a slow process of inward degradation. In the final two verses, the poem ends with a solemn warning:

“Tonight Shanghai is burning,
And we are dying too.
What bomb more surely mortal
Than death inside of you?
For some men die by shrapnel,
And some go down in flames,
But most men perish inch by inch,
In play at little games.”

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.