Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Why do people of all nations celebrate Christmas?

Don’t you think it’s amazing that an event that took place in an obscure part of the Middle East 2000 years ago is celebrated today up and down the streets of our valley, across our nation, and around the world?

Think of all the people who have ever been born.   Do you know how many that is?    Carl Haub is senior visiting scholar at the Population Reference Bureau.  He guestimates that throughout human history, 107 Billion people have been born.

Out of all those birthdays, there is one that divides history into before and after.

One that switches on billions of holiday lights.

One child given as a gift to the world, setting off a gift giving season unlike any other.

One person whose life inspired millions to live lives abandoned to the good of others and the glory of God – from adopting orphans, caring for the sick and dying, setting up schools, hospitals, and universities.   Creating great music, art, and science, and going to the uttermost parts of the earth to bring hope to their fellow man.

One person whose birth was all but hidden on earth but announced from heaven.  And in our day that announcement is fulfilled all around the globe.

Luke 2:10 (NLT)
"but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people."

There is certainly today a lot of shopping and making money associated with Christmas.   But it has not been able to hide the real meaning behind the celebration.

There is a reason Christmas is celebrated around the world.

It has to be something greater than presents.

It has to be something greater than “just for the kids.”

It has to be greater than an opportunity to make a buck.  Because in many places Christmas has little to do with buying and giving gifts.

What is the reason that Christmas is celebrated around the world?  It is because we have a universal need.   And Christ alone meets that need.

Some people talk about sin.  Brokenness in our relationships, brokenness in our lives.  Fear.  Addiction.  Shame.  Bondage.  Feeling lost.  Empty.

The Bible gives a diagnosis for this problem: we have lived separately from the God who knows and loves us.

 God is the great king of all things.  And we’re living in the king’s world, in the bodies our creator formed for us, but we’re not living under the authority of this king.

There is a gulf that exists between him and us, and that gulf exists within our own hearts.  Unless the king himself comes as a fellow human, takes on our brokenness and sin, and bridges that gulf, we are lost.

In Christ that is what God did.

God became a baby who would grow to be a boy, and then a man who would never step out of obedience to God.  Then he would take our place and die for our sin on a Roman cross outside of Jerusalem.

He faced the greatest imaginable shame at the cross.  Yet he did it for love.  He did it for you.
WE don’t remember the names of any of the thousands the Romans crucified.  But we remember the name of Jesus.

We don’t hold school holidays and international celebrations for the birth of anyone like we do for Jesus.  But we do it for him because he is worthy of our highest praise and our full allegiance and he is
certainly worthy of a party that spans the continents and the oceans of this planet that he loves so much.

Luke 2:11-12 (NLT)
"The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger."

The king of kings was born that day.  Had they known who he was they would have custom built a palace for him in Bethlehem.   But they didn’t recognize him.    There was no room for them in the inn, so they laid him in a manger in stable, with the animals, and only the lowly shepherds to adore him.

But he calls you and me today who know how the story unfolds to honour him as our Lord who we will obey, and our saviour, who we will trust with our lives.

And so on his behalf I issue that call to you.  Believer or current nonbeliever.

Do not think that you are included in his gift, if you call him your saviour but refuse him as your Lord. Do not think that you are excluded from his gift, if your guilt feels too great, because God’s son has paid your debt in full.   Do not merely celebrate the holiday of Christmas.   But commit your heart to Christ. Do not only give your gifts to you family.  Give your life to the Father who gave us his Son.

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