A Christmas Lesson: Jesus and His Impact on the World

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He was born to poor parents in modest surroundings in a remote part of the world.  We know about only 15 years of his life (sparse details up to age 12, and the last 3 years during his ministry). He commanded no armies, never ruled over a nation, and had no great wealth.

He was rejected by his hometown, harassed by the lawyers and priests of his day, and preached messages that encouraged giving up possessions, suffering for faith, loving your enemies, and warned that following him would split up families.

He embraced outcasts, liars, prostitutes, the lame and those riddled with disease with love and without concern for what anyone thought of his behavior.

His words of faith have been ridiculed, banned, burned, changed, misquoted, mocked and rejected.

Dozens of wars have been fought over him, some started by people who used his name in vainglory for their own interests.

After more than 2000 years his name is known to nearly every living human.  The Bible and the Gospels have been translated into every world language and is the largest selling book in world history.

He has inspired billions of people to follow him, worship him and transform their lives to become more peaceful, loving, compassionate and generous.

His birth can rightly be considered one of the most important events in the history of mankind, second only to his death.

What kind of man could live such a life and have such a world impact?  Only one man, the Son of God, born among us to save us from sin and death. In this season to honor his birth, let us all remember who he was, why he came and what he means to our world.  He is hope, light, truth, love and salvation.

Hallelujah, Jesus…Praise His Holy Name!

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. “ 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, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:10-14

Beware of the Company You Keep

I used to have a friend, years ago, who was fond of saying “if you hang with the lame, you limp.”  Now I never did approve of the insensitive way he framed his statement, however I always realized that there was real truth buried in my old friend’s favorite refrain.

God wants us to live good lives committed to turning away from sin and embracing a life of light in a world of darkness, yet darkness surrounds us.  It follows us and crowds in on us.  The darkness tempts us and the longer we allow ourselves to be close to it the easier it becomes to slip inside and leave the light.   The hard truth is that the decisions we make about our friends, business partners, social acquaintances, and even life partners will greatly affect our ability to fight temptation and avoid embracing the darkness.  When we choose wisely we find like-minded faithful men and women who assist us in our walk, when we do not we are surrounded by faithless men and women who tempt us to abandon our walk.

Does this mean we should avoid or shun non-believers?  No.  Does this mean that we should treat non-believers  badly? Of course not.  It does mean we must be discerning in our relationships, in our socializing, in whom we place our trust and our confidences.  It means we should seek out like-minded followers of Christ and bind to them in a yoke of friendship, faith and shared hope.  It means we must be ever aware of the creeping darkness and stay close to the light of Christ.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  2 Corinthians 6:14

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1

 

 

Offering The Hand of Mercy

Besides love I think the most important quality and gift we can offer people is mercy.  So many people are hurting, angry, stressed.  These are good people battling personal demons and personal issues that at times are so overwhelming.  In our rush through life we have a tendency to dismiss them, get annoyed by them, or worse get angry with them.  We need to offer mercy, grace, and forgiveness and seek ways to ease their suffering not add to it.  I meet so many business people who appear to be one more bad day away from a nervous breakdown…or worse.  We need to offer the hand of fellowship to them, discuss the peace and love of Christ and treat them like Christ would…offer them hope for a better future and a way to come out of this wicked world and find peace beyond understanding.  We need to become ministers of mercy and grace and bring peace to everyone we meet.  The world may never have been more in need of it.

One who loves with a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend. Proverbs 22:11

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.  Matthew 5:7

Less of Me, More of Him

A major lesson I have learned in life is that when I live “me” centered I make a lot of mistakes.  My decisions are selfish and self-centered, they ignore the feelings and needs of others, and usually result in consequences I later come to regret. The “all about me” decisions can also result in hurting the feelings of others around me who are shut out by me and not considered when I want to feed my ego and my “sin-self.”  They typically feel good for a short while, like an addict with a fix that needs to be fed, but after I come down from the “me” high I am left cleaning up some kind of mess.

However when I live a Christ centered life, where God is a part of my daily walk, my daily decisions, and is my guide, I bypass immediate pleasures for good, long-term decisions and actions that result in a much greater reward.  My life is less complicated.  I have to “fix” things less often, my friends and family are happy because I am aware of and concerned about everyone around me, and my life is more joyous.

They key is to subdue and control the “me” from overtaking the “Him.” The only way I know how to do this is by being connected to the Word through fellowship with other believers, through consistent reading of the Bible, and by holding myself accountable daily.  This is not about being perfect but it is about embracing a life that is in the world but not of the world.

No pain no gain.  Take up a cross of commitment to Christ and live a life that is godly, and see how much more satisfying and rewarding your life can and will be.  This is a constant struggle for me, but when I can and do harness my selfish instincts I find that life is so much more pleasurable.

Have a blessed day!