Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas: The entry of Jesus Christ into Human History

Merry Christmas!  May the Lord Jesus Christ be at the center of your celebrations this holiday season.  Truly truly Christmas is all about Jesus Christ.  

Does the date really matter?  Not really.  Are some of the Christmas traditions rooted in paganism? Yes they are.  Yet despite those concerns, this Christmas can and is all about Jesus Christ in my heart.  It should be the same for you.  Set new traditions and new standards within your home, to make Jesus Christ the center of your Christmas celebration.  There is nothing wrong with that.  There is nothing pagan about that.  

In the Bible God taught us to observe days of thanksgiving to remind ourselves how God has shown us love and mercy. Feast dates were instituted by the nation of Israel to remind them of the moments in history when God had helped them, like the exodus from Egypt.  There isn't anything wrong with using the calendar year to keep our hearts and minds centered on Christ.

Christ is great.  Christ is the real deal.  We need to make sure we never forget, and always focus deeply on Jesus Christ.  We humans are people of habit.  When we get in the habit of recalling Jesus in this time, we can keep him front and center. 

God came into human history.  He suited up in the form of a person, Jesus Christ, to save his people.  He went on a rescue mission to save humanity.  

There was no hope before Jesus Christ, there was only sin and the rule of evil.  Evil has destroyed our planet.  It's given birth to every horror imaginable: child sex slavery, starvation, diseases, abortion, genocides perpetrated by secular dictators, divorce, broken families, wars of greed and wealth, racism, sexism, violence against those with differing views, and even the horror of the genocide of entire races of people. Think of the Jews during World War II, the people of Cambodia during the genocide, and millions of Africans during the Rwandan civil war.  

Many get so upset when Christians say that the world is an evil place.  They seem to think there is no evidence.  Yet there is so much evidence all around us!  Have they not lived in the terrible 20th century?  They have, but they are blind.  They have their secular humanist glasses on.  Many today can't see past the borders of the United State's wealth and affluence.  Despite their own propensity to bash and mock the American way of life, they live in a cocoon of safety provided by it.  Despite the rhetoric, the problem of sin and evil is obvious.  

God didn't make those things.  We did those things.  God gives us the choice.  He lets us choose how to live.  Do we do good or do evil?  Most today choose passive selfishness.  And apathy is the same thing as doing nothing.  It's not helpful.  Some choose good though.  They're the ones constantly mocked on television, internet, and newspapers.  They're labeled as crazies for standing for things like religious freedom, conscientious objection, faith lived in public life, or standing for Christian sexual ethics.  They're even mocked for praying.  

Jesus Christ came into the world to save people like us, lost, self-destructive, addictive, selfish, consumerist, and given to random sexual encounters at bars on Friday night.  We've prostituted ourselves at bars, at parties with friends, to people we hardly know, just for the fun of it.  How deep is our moral confusion, how inexhaustible is it?  Yet Jesus came for people like us.  He came to save us who go from divorce to divorce, for us who give ourselves to every stranger we catch feelings for.  He even came to save the LGBTQ activists celebrating their sinful behavior in a parade, who spat on a Christian minister who accidentally walked too close to the procession.  I saw a graphic describing the evolution of gay rights, it said: 1990 - we want tolerance. 2000 - we  want equality. 2015 - bake the cake bigot!  And the graphic showed a rainbow colored gun pointed to the head of the baker.  Oh how the oppressed have become the oppressors.  Yet Jesus came to save us who oppress the innocent.  Jesus came to save us who abused and mocked the gay community.  Jesus came to save those lost within the gay community.  He came for us all, and we would only turn to him. 

He came to save a culture that considers ministers less than scum, and Caitlyn Jenner as heroic.  He came to save those who were actively in rebellion against everything he stood for.  Jesus came to save us, the ones lost in sin.

The message of Jesus Christ is that it's never too late.  You're never too far gone.  You're still completely open to the chance of calling out to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all sin, to turn from your old ways and embrace the way of holiness.  

Sin has destroyed our world.  Sin has destroyed us in many ways, some more than others.  Yet the most terrible situation of sin is that whenever we do evil and live in these awful ways, we sin against God himself.  God understands perfectly, right from wrong.  He knows all the right ways to live.  And he's told us those ways.  Yet we didn't listen.  We mocked the Bible, despite how history had hung around it.  We mocked the Christian faith, despite how our country was founded on it's precepts.  I've done those things personally.  I was once the chief mocker of the Christian view.  But now I'm an advocate.  I sinned against God himself, the creator of the universe.  Have you done the same?  Have you contributed to the evil state of our world?

If so, it's not over for you.  It doesn't matter what you've done.  Have you had an abortion?  Jesus will remove that sin.  Have you engaged in homosexuality?  Jesus will remove that sin.  Have you hurt your family?  Jesus will remove that sin.  Have you stolen from others?  Jesus will remove it.  Have you been lazy and selfish all your life?  Jesus will free you from that.  Have you raped someone?  Jesus will remove that sin.  Have you been hateful?  Jesus will remove that too.  Have you killed someone?  Jesus will remove that sin too.  Have you hated God and mocked his name?  Jesus will forgive that sin too.  He will make you white as snow, gifted in his righteousness, and set you on a new path of repentance from all evil.  He will change you into a person who lives in holiness.  He will wash away all your sins and give you new birth into a living hope.  

This incredible sage began about 2,000 years ago in a little town in the middle east.  A baby boy was born in a manger because there wasn't any room at the motel.  Isn't it ironic that the one who made the world from nothing couldn't find a hotel room?  Much less a hospital for a safe birthing procedure!

We've all heard of the wise guys who showed up right?  I imagine they were quite perplexed for some time.  Maybe they had dreams about the birth of a special person who would change the world.  I've often had strange dreams that leave me wondering for days.  Maybe they dismissed those dreams as simply the odd clamorings of a human mind.  Until one of them noticed a bright star.  Perhaps he had seen it in a dream.  And he started to follow.  And the others followed.  There they found the new born Jesus Christ.  

Could they have comprehended the mystery?  I doubt they understood fully.  They probably looked down on the baby and thought: "I wonder what this could mean?"  Yet I bet there was also an incredible sense of awe, though they didn't quite understand the awe, they were compelled within to worship this child as their Lord.  Amazing, isn't it? 

It isn't always easy to fully comprehend.  I still have my doubts at times.  I think about the Bible, the life of Jesus Christ and the current state of the world... and I wonder to myself: What is all this?  Does it really make sense?  How can the birth of one man, God, and his life, death, and resurrection free me from sin?  How can it give me eternal life?  Why this way?  Why not another formula?  Jesus Christ took my place?  God's wrath for me fell on Christ?  Isn't that a bit intense?  Why would God want to slaughter me, and send me to hell if he's good and loving?  I still ponder those questions.  But there is something else too: Today I'm willing to admit that I don't fully comprehend all of it.  I'm willing to be humbled by life and circumstances to the point that I can receive it, and see it working in my life.  I'm willing to leave the door open to further thought, while confidently trusting in Christ.

I'm a human person, I'm not God.  I can't see every angle.  In fact family and friends have more than once called me out on areas of my life that need to change.  And they were right.  I can't see certain things because of my own prejudice.  It's the same way when I look at the cross of Jesus Christ.  I can't perceive the full meaning and majesty of it.  Often when I look upon it my gut reaction is to look with my old eyes and see an anachronism.  But in the Spirit, I can see the iceberg beneath the surface of the meaning of it.  I can't see all of it.  But I can see more, in the Spirit.

My questions remain, but so does my faith.  I've put my trust in Jesus Christ.  He is my savior.  Do I understand every verse and every passage?  No I don't.  Do I see the work of Jesus Christ in my life?  You bet I do.  Do I feel the connection to him?  Yes I do.  Do I sense a greater implication in the mystery of his life, death, and resurrection?  Yes, yes, yes I do.  

I don't understand all the Bible.  But I trust every word of it.  And I'm willing to put the Bible above my own opinions.  The Bible is right and if I disagree with something in the Bible guess whose wrong?  I am.  You are.  God's word is true, time will show it to be true.

The mystery of Jesus Christ changed the world forever.  If I can't perceive the fullness of it, that's a Justin problem, that's not God's problem and I don't need every single detail to make an informed decision for reasonable faith in a reasonable God who has reasonably saved me from a just penalty for my own iniquity.   

God came into human history.  Emmanuel means "God with us."  God came.  He lived a perfect life.  He went to the cross for us.  He died for us.  He was bodily resurrected for our salvation.  He came to perfect us.  Jesus declared victory over death when he bodily resurrected.  Jesus Christ is alive today, resurrected and glorified seated in authority at the right hand of God the Father. 

And in the future he will present us to God the Father in perfect holiness, and present to us a perfect reality.  A reality with no more sin, death, and misery.  No more death!  I've been working in nursing homes for months now serving there, and I've seen the horror of death.  And something about it seems wrong.  Death is wrong, death should not be.  

Death is a disease and Jesus Christ is the cure.  

So God the Father will remake reality itself a mystery called the coming of the Kingdom of God.  He will build a new Earth and a new universe freed from the plagues of death and sin.  There we will live with God forever in peace, joy, and unending life.  Is it really so unbelievable?  I don't think so.  God made the universe.  We messed it up.  He's given us a chance for redemption.  We receive it, stand as pillars of it in this temporal universe and then when we pass through the shadow of death (physical death) we will live eternally is a recreated universe where death has no place.  That works for me.

I hope it works for you too.  It's the truth about everything.  It's the hidden formula of life, behind all the piffy doctrines of humanism, naturalism, and the false realities of this world.  None of them make sense, they don't add up, and they don't adequately interpret the observable universe.  Christianity does in fact adequately explain all facets of life: origin of life, meaning of life, morality of life, and the destiny of humanity and the universe.  Origin, meaning, morality and destiny.  Test and observe.  Naturalism can't touch that.  It's garbage, half-baked presuppositions based on false beliefs.  

Despite the secular revolution in our country, Christians are pushing back.  They are appealing to heaven, to God, to change our nation.  God is answering those prayers.  Jesus Christ is the center of life.  He is the center of all we do as Christians.  I urge you to use this holiday time to delve a few steps closer to the mystery of his life and his gift to us, his chosen people. 

Focus on Jesus Christ this Christmas, he is truly the savior of the world.  We don't seem to fully understand how much he's done for us, but that's OK, we can praise him and worship him anyway.  Over time we will grow closer and closer to the wonderful savior.  Amen. 

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