Today: Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Christmas: does it change anything?    (12/26/2010)


Last week we talked about how the ‘three kings’ who came to worship the infant Jesus were probably the kind of people followers of God would normally have nothing to do with. They were star-gazers, future-tellers, charlatans… things specifically prohibited in scripture.

And yet God called them to come visit his baby son. They encountered God in that place, and did the only thing you can possibly do when you encounter God: they worshipped.

One thing that characterised Jesus’ ministry was that he constantly did unexpected things with unexpected people. That’s why people around him had such a hard time accepting that he was the Messiah: he didn’t act like a king, a ruler, or someone who even seemed to know the ‘rules’. He seemed to have his own set of rules.

Mark [NT] chapter 2, verses 16-17, says: “The teachers of the law… asked his disciples: ‘Why does Jesus eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ ”

So this Christmas is for you if, like me, you’re a sinner.

Christmas is for you if you’re ashamed of anything you’ve ever done. If you’ve ever stolen anything. If you’ve ever cheated on your taxes, or in a game or sport, or on your partner. If you’ve broken the law; if you’ve broken trust; if you’ve broken a heart.

If you’ve used other people to get ahead. If you’ve injured or killed anyone. If you’ve been sexually inappropriate. If you’ve lied. If you have a relationship you just can’t respect. If you’ve let people down. If you have an addiction. If you have anger issues. If you just can’t allow yourself to express love.

If you’re a gossip. If you’ve manipulated other people. If you’ve turned your back when someone needed your help. If you’ve rejected those who care for you. If you’ve allowed bitterness to get in the way.

If you’ve been a hypocrite. If you’ve hated other people for what they have. If you’ve enjoyed a sense of control over someone else. If you’ve loved money and abused its power.

Perhaps you’ve known God, and then rejected him. Used his name in ways you shouldn’t. Or thought you had it right and others didn’t. Idolised anything or anyone. Turned your back on the cross.

If, like me, you’ve ever felt inadequate or unworthy, you were right. We’re all sinners, even if we dislike the word or hate the idea of labelling ourselves so negatively.

But we’re not hopeless sinners. There is hope—there is Someone who deliberately goes looking for people just like us. Someone with a new set of rules: the rules of the kingdom of God, not of humankind. Rules which welcome both the hurters and the hurting. And the Bible tells us that every time a sinner admits their shame and turns to God, the angels rejoice in heaven.

That first Christmas changed the ‘three kings’. This Christmas can change you and me.

Pray: Jesus, I want to be able to see Christmas differently; I want to understand that you see me differently. I want to grasp that the reason you came to earth was not to lord it up but to be my Lord. Help me to understand my sins, and what you mean for me. Amen.

Think about: Is there anything in the list above that you recognise in your own past or present? Remember that Jesus came not for the healthy, but the sick. He’s waiting to hear from you – all you have to do is start the conversation.

Challenge: Sometimes we all need a fresh start, but it can be hard to find the opportunity. Once a year, Christmas returns – a reminder that our God is a god of surprises, of welcome, of forgiveness. Why not use this Christmas to make a fresh start? And if you can’t keep it up, don’t worry; we never run out of second chances with God.

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