Separation Anxiety At Christmas

Lonley blog CHristmasA few Christmas’ ago my brother was deployed with the Air Force during the holiday season. My family still had all of the same traditions. We watched Christmas movies, had our famous Christmas Eve buffet with a great assortment of shrimp and fresh Texas tamales, and sang the Twelve Days of Christmas in rounds. We also did everything possible to include my brother in our celebration. We called him on Christmas Eve and then video chatted with him on Christmas morning. But try as hard as we might, there was no substitution for his presence. We could not play games with him, talk to him over our cups of steaming hot chocolate, or hug him as we happily gathered around our Christmas tree to open presents. He was greatly missed

However, separation is not limited to the realm of family and friends this Christmas. The holiday is concerned with a much larger separation. In Isaiah 59:1-20, we learn that we have been separated from God. The prophet wrote, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God and your sins have hidden him from you so that he does not hear (59:2).” You see the God of the Bible is a holy and a pure God. He cannot tolerate sin. Now according to Genesis 2, God made the first humans pure like him and they lived in happiness. But, they sinned against God. Consequently, all their offspring- including you and me- follow the pattern of our first parents. We sin. Consequently, we separate ourselves from God.  Now everyone wants to be right with God and to feel good about their actions. We try to do good things. Perhaps, we carry an elderly woman’s bags to her car, or we finally clean our rooms, or at Christmas we try to be extra nice to everybody for the whole twenty-four hours.  But we cannot erase or escape our sins. Isaiah noted “Our transgressions are with us (59:12b).” Just as my family could not bring my brother home for Christmas that year, we cannot wipe away our sins. We cannot bridge the gap between us and God.  We need a savior!

The great news is that God did not leave us alone. He saw that there was no person who could save sinners. He had mercy on us!  He declared that a ‘Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgressions” (59:20a). He made a way for men and women to come back to God. If we flee from our sins and cling to God we will be saved. The Redeemer will reconcile us to God, paying the penalty for our sin and making us white as snow!

Today we celebrate the Christmas because it tells of how Jesus came to be that redeemer by being born as a little baby. It reveals that there is hope for all. If you do not know Christ, I encourage you to put your faith in him by repenting of your sins. Talk to your pastor or to other godly men and women. Ask them about how to end your separation from God.

If you have the joy of knowing Christ, continue to flee from sin. Remember that your sin harms your relationship with God. Jesus came on that cold Christmas morning long ago so that we might be right with God.  Use this Christmas season to purify your life. Indentify sins and repent of them. Ask others to keep you accountable. But most importantly, rejoice that the separation from God is over! A redeemer has come!

Don’t Miss The Point of Xmas

 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Sdon't miss the point of Christmasince Adam and Eve, men and women had been longing for the arrival of the snake crusher. They had been yearning for a deliverer to rescue them from evil. Noah wasn’t able to did it. After the flood, he got drunk and embarrassed his whole family. One of his sons even got cursed because of Noah’s foolishness. Abraham couldn’t do it either, trusting lies and human ingenuity. Moses got mad and smashed the rock. Samson chased pretty girls. David was a murderer. All of the rescuers that God had sent to deliver his people ultimately failed. They had failed to give God’s people rest and peace. And when we come to Luke 2, the people of Israel don’t even have their own ruler. They are under the thumb of the Romans. Instead of liberty, they are captives, political slaves if you will. They needed a deliverer, a savior. And not just from Rome, but from their own hearts. For as Romans 6 says “the wages of sin is death.” This is setting of Christmas is story.  It is one of shattered hopes and never ending waiting.

And then boom, the door opens; the skies literally explode with the glory of God. His angels come with the message, “A Savior, who is Christ the Lord has been born.” The one who will crush the power of the serpent, the one who will liberate all his children from sin, the one who will restore peace has arrived. He bursts into the human story. He left the glories of heaven to come into the world as a little, lowly, baby. He fully identified with us in our sorrow, so that he could perfectly deliver us through his death on the cross. The Lord has come. Our savior has arrived.

Jesus. He is the point of Christmas. If we make Christmas about presents, about family, or about little elves and Santa, we miss the whole point of the holiday. We miss God.

 Jesus didn’t come so that we could have a nice holiday. He didn’t come to give of us earthly happiness. He came to give us peace with God. He came to be the perfect deliverer. He came so that we might be holy. Don’t forget about Jesus. Make time to tell your kids the Christmas story. Make time to worship the incarnate savior, the word become flesh. Don’t miss the point of Christmas! 

Christ the Lord is born today
He came from heaven’s throne
God is born a man today
To bring His children home
To bring His children home

It’s Hard to Keep Christ in Christmas

CHrist in Christmas BLogI spent many a Christmas morning squirming in my seat as my Dad read the Christmas story. Jesus was good and all but the gifts were right there across the way under the tree. Happiness was so close but still we had to wait. A few minutes later, the candles were lit, the songs were sung, and we were off to open presents.

Keeping a Christ centered focus is hard even at Christmas. We have to overcome our faulty perceptions of the world. We all long for heroes atop tall steeds, charging across the battlefield. We fawn over movie stars who earn millions on the Big Screen via the good looks and handsome charm. And we appeal to  credentialed Ph.D.’s for advice and counsel. We naturally want to follow the powerful, beautiful, and intelligent.

 Christ comes wrapped clothes and laid in a manger. He appeared lowly. He wasn’t even allowed in the inn. He humbled himself. And now he calls us to die to self and to put the needs of others before our own. We find this strange. We naturally reject the message of the nativity that calls us worship Christ. We love ourselves. We want the gifts of God that will magnify us and our ego.

And so this Christmas season, we must not be surprised to see the world get wrapped up with gifts, commercialism, and self-exaltation. We must not be surprised to see our kids value Christmas traditions more than Jesus. 

After all, Santa strokes the modern ego far more effectively than Christ. He gives gifts to good girls and boys. And we all like to think of ourselves as good. In fact, most of us can actually attain the Santa standard. Seen anyone get coal lately? The doctrine of self-forgetfulness is offensive to our nature even at Christmas. But is it true. And there is no life apart from it. To truly live, we must die to ourselves.

We must fight the world perceptions. We must seek to be lowly like our savior. We must seek to put others before ourselves. To keep Christ in Christmas, we must remember who are savior was. Then we must seek to be like him.