Christmas! So much happiness and cheer come with the season of trees, Santa Claus, stockings, sleigh bells, reindeer, carols, parties, presents and church plays! Well, at least for many people. If you are in Southeast Asia and you’re not Christian you most probably are not celebrating Christmas and it probably doesn’t mean much to you, except for the Christmas songs you hear in the malls and the radio, or tv. If you’re in Northeast Asia you may not be a believer of Jesus and His birth but you are most likely having a Christmas party at work or with your friends at the bar. You will have a Christmas tree at home and some trimmings and may even eat a Christmas cake at your Christmas party where you exchange gifts. If you’re in Europe you would have Christmas trees at your mall or town center and trimmings and lights on the roads, even the houses. It would be the same in many other countries where England, Spain or France had ruled once before. As for the rest of the world where Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism and other religions are followed, as well as those where communism is the ideology (Russia, North Korea, Myanmar, etc.) there probably would be no vestiges of Christmas in the commercial places at all, probably only in some homes, and in secret. But for us here in America and in the part of Asia where I come from, Christmas, just like Thanksgiving, is always associated with family reunions, get-togethers, parties, church-going, exchanging gifts, etc. It’s the time of year when people would pay a premium just to purchase a ticket to be home. In the olden times, it’s that time of year when we hear from family and friends though we hardly hear from them at any other time of the year. We would send Christmas cards, letters, photographs, even presents, to one another. Nowadays, because of technology and social media we just send our greetings through the airwaves. We get to save many trees and the environmentalists rejoice!
Sounds really awesome and great but it could be terribly awful and lonely for those who do not have a family, or friends, real friends who care. I am thinking about the homeless or the elderly parent whose children are all abroad and can’t come home for the Christmas dinner. Or the single senior parent in a hospice and his/her family are scattered all over the place and they all are too far to come and see him/her. Or the grieving one whose spouse or child had just passed away this year, or had an accident and is in a coma, or is terminally ill and in a hospital. Or the one who just had a divorce, or had a bitter quarrel with a child and is not on speaking terms with him/her. I guess for them, Christmas would be more like misery rather than happy?
If we have friends and loved ones, neighbors, who may be in these situations, this is the best time to reach out to them, as Christmas becomes depressing rather than cheerful for them. It is a reality that holidays are the worst times of the year for them. Let’s remember to pay them a visit or call, send a card, flowers, bring a dish or something.
For those of us who have broken relationships, we can take this time to take a deep breath, re-think once, twice, one more time… Voile! it is the best time to make amends! Send a gift, card or something to indicate that you want to forget whatever bitterness had transpired between you and your loved one, you want to start afresh and of course, that is not so easy to do unless we have had a true renaissance in our hearts. Well, Jesus came at the first Christmas to bring love, hope and forgiveness to all of us. Maybe we can take a moment to reflect on that?
Does it really matter that we are able to attend parties? That we wear the most eye-catching clothes and brightest smiles to see friends and family? Does it really matter that we have a dining table loaded with goodies on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve? Does it really matter if we don’t have a tree or lights or trimmings on our windows? When we are not in good terms with people we love isn’t it that the only thing that matters would be to be reconciled with them and have peace in our hearts?
14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive men their sins your Father will not forgive your sins.
That is the reason why we do not have peace when we have discord with other people, especially our very own family. When there are broken relationship and unforgiveness they create barriers in our relationship with God. Those barriers are the main cause of the unrest in our hearts. We might try to ignore them, sometimes for years, on and on, but they are the things that cause illness in our bodies. They are also known as sin. This is one of the most basic concepts of living and it’s found in the Bible, the word of God.
Adam and Eve, the first humans, committed the first sin of mankind which broke man’s relationship with God. In fact, they fell out of the grace of God – they were driven from God’s presence and His heavenly place of dwelling for them – the Garden of Eden.
Romans 3:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. As such, they were meant to be eternal just like Him. But because of sin, they became mortal. Our being mortal is another result of that original sin they committed – eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil of which they were forbidden to eat.
Being put away from God’s presence and his heavenly habitation created both an estrangement and a breach between God and man. That condemnation has brought shame, guilt, low self-esteem, self-pity, despair, loneliness and rejection in the heart of man. As such, man became predisposed to broken relationships. Relating with his spouse, children, friends and family became a struggle rather than a natural thing. All these bring unrest in the heart of man. The only solution to that restlessness is the peace of God, being reconciled with God and restored to that place of fellowship and intimate relationship with God. Alas, how do we ever get back to that place of fellowship and trust with God again? Can we ever get Eden back? (Yes, even global warming and all the environmental problems we’re having are results of our sin and sinful nature inherited from Adam and Eve!)
Well, God, the only true wise God, came up with the solution. He sent somebody to pay for our sins so our mortality can be reversed and we can be restored to the original state of Adam and Eve before the Fall. That somebody has to be human so he can take the place of humans (he cannot be an angel or an animal like a goat, sheep, cow, etc.). Also, he has to be sinless. He has to be totally pure or he cannot be a fitting sacrifice. If he has sin, even just a single one, when he offers his life in the place of mankind he would be dying only for his own sin, not for anyone else’s. Thus, he has to be totally sinless, perfect beyond reproach. So, Jesus volunteered to do the job. As well, he is the only one who qualifies to be the legitimate sacrifice. Any human being wouldn’t have qualified because all humans have inherited the effects of the sin/iniquity and resulting sinful nature of Adam and Eve after they committed the first sin. When Jesus became human he had to be born of a woman but He was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit, hence, the virgin birth. Jesus was 100% human but also 100% Divine. It doesn’t make sense? Well, if we can understand everything about God we would be the same level as Him. But as it is, we are not, thus, God remains incomprehensible, at least in areas that He hasn’t chosen to reveal to us. So yes, Jesus was truly human yet truly divine – one who was truly obedient to His Father, the God of the Universe, the One True God. The obedience of One Man paid the price of punishment for the rebellion of the whole human race. (Take note: only humans! Angels, demons nor “aliens” cannot be redeemed through Jesus’ sacrifice.)
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll – I have come to do your will, O God.’ “
So, there, God became flesh for us on the first Christmas! And such great joy and peace He brought unto men for doing that! If His peace and joy are not real to you, I know what that means. I was once like that, too. Neither did I understand the love of God, especially His love for me (and you) expressed through His only son Jesus. I can tell my story in another blog next time or this blog will grow too long. I still remember how it felt like, celebrating Christmas the first time after I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. So much joy, peace, happiness and meaning came into my life! It was my first time to spend Christmas and New Year away from my family but it was the most meaningful, joyful and peaceful for me. It was like not knowing what you’re searching for yet knowing that you need to search for it and when you find it, you know it answers all the questions you’ll ever have in life! It’s coming to know and have what you have been missing all the while. I felt like I found the meaning of my life and existence. Looking back, I actually found Life itself! It’s just how wonderful God truly is!
I just recently watched this vid post on youtube and I think this song and singer (Phil Driscoll) say it very well. When this song was famous my friends and I used to make fun of it, saying “pitiful” instead of “beautiful.” For really, nobody deserves that kind of cheesy adoration! It’s plain silly! But now that this singer explains that this song was originally composed ( by Billy Preston) with God in mind (not a human love interest), the song suddenly makes sense to me. Well, yes, He is truly BEAUTIFUL!!!
It starts at 2:00 onwards. And yes, Jesus brings so much joy and happiness into our lives! (If you let Him.) Go ahead and watch it!
Well, back to our topic today – “Christmas Happiness.”
1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.”
Until we realize how much God loves us we won’t be able to receive that love into our hearts, and we won’t be able to give away something we don’t have in the first place.
We can’t forgive and be reconciled with the people who irk us if we have not received the forgiveness of God, yet.
Unless we realize how much sin we have committed and how much we have broken God’s heart, we won’t realize we need to know the holiness of God.
Unless we know the holiness of God, we will never know how far we fall short below His standard and we can never realize how truly “ugly” we are, and how badly we need His beauty imparted upon us.
Unless we look at ourselves in a mirror and see ourselves as we are, we will never know how wretched, poor, blind and naked we are, and how badly we need God.
The Bible, the word of God, says:
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Could this be true about ourselves? Could the word of God be actually a mirror that reflects our true state in God’s eyes?
If it is not true, then Jesus left His glory and majesty as King in Heaven and became a humble human being born in a lowly manger, in a home fit only for animals – a stable – for nothing. For Jesus came to lift us up from our dark and sorry plight to a glorious one – full of abundance, favor, light, freedom, comfort, joy, gladness and beauty.
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion –
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, ’the oil of gladness instead of mourning,’ and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Are you intrigued about Jesus yet? His birthday is celebrated by so many! His birth re-set the calendar of human activity, from “BC” to “AD.” “BC” means “before Christ” and “AD” means “Anno Domini,” Latin for “in the year of our Lord,” referring to the Lord Jesus. After the birth of Jesus, every year became known as “the year of our Lord,” meaning, “after we already have the Lord who came as our Messiah – Savior, Messenger, Prophet.” His birth is so significant that the timeline of the history of human civilization is pegged at His birth, albeit the scholars who did it made a wrong calculation of Jesus’ actual year of birth. You can read more about that here.
Well, “Christmas Happiness?” I say you can find it in Jesus. But don’t take my word for it, check it out yourself!
Merry Christmas and Peace to all!
All Scripture references are from the 1984 New International Version, unless otherwise specified. Emphases in bold letters are mine.
If you wish to cite this blog, citation is as follows: PureJoyLand. (2015, Dec 24). Christmas Happiness [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://purejoyland.com/2015/12/christmas-happiness/