Pulpit Reflections

Pulpit Reflections
I guess we all know that life is changing quite a bit these days, and many of us feel a little unsettled about that, especially the speed at which we live. Everything seems to happen so quickly these days! We wait for it to come, and then very quickly it's gone. This was especially true of Christmas 2005, when Christmas was on a Sunday.

The problem with our over-heated lifestyle is that we don't get or take time to think about important things. We are so busy going and doing, that we just don't have time to think. This is really tragic about Christmas, because Christmas is not about going and doing, but about a special kind of thinking, remembering that God sent his son to save us from our sins. We really need to think about that.

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph to tell him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife and to explain to him the miraculous nature of Mary's pregnancy, he also commanded Joseph, "And you shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." (Matt. 1:21) I would like to think seriously about these words for a few minutes. Maybe we can make up a little bit for Christmas past, which might accurately be called "Christmas lost."

First of all, let us notice that Jesus did NOT come to save us from war, disaster and poverty, or from the high cost of medicine. The world of today and the church of today often has the wrong agenda when it comes to salvation. We want to be saved from all of the material problems that face mankind in the world. In fact, Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:6 that these things are the normal characteristics of the age in which we live because to put it bluntly, mankind is simply not able to solve its own problems.

You see, the reason that mankind is not able to solve its own problems is that those problems come from inside of man, from our sinful hearts, and as long as we just work at these material problems, we are treating the symptoms and not the underlying disease. Now the reason we work so hard at treating the symptoms rather than the disease causing them is that we are all suckers for the sin of human pride. These problems just can't be our fault!

Well, Jesus is not so optimistic about human nature. He said, "those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man, For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lying, blasphemies; These are the things that defile a man." (Matt. 15:18-19) It is these sinful things INSIDE of us that Jesus came to save us from, not the external problems caused by sin, but sin itself.

You see, if we really understand Christmas, we will realize that Jesus came to save us from ourselves, from the sinful guilt and defilement of our own hearts. Christmas is a big deal because at Christmas God was doing something impossible. No, I don't mean just making a baby in the womb of a virgin. God was doing that but he was doing much more. I mean God was providing an answer to human sin.

When Jesus said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter God's kingdom," his disciples, who were far from stupid, said simply, "Who then can be saved?" (Matt 19:24ff) Jesus' answer should wake everyone of us up: "With man this is impossible," he said, "But with God all things are possible."

If your pride and my pride will not allow us to confess our sins, we won't think we need Jesus, and Christmas will always be a hollow and rather silly celebration. But, if we can swallow that pride and see ourselves as we really are, Christmas will be the wonderful celebration of God's grace for saving you and me from our sins. Then Christmas past will never be Christmas lost.

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