I recently heard a talk by Tim Keller, of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, in New York City, which caused me to stop and think. While I have been a Christian, at least nominally, as long as I can remember, Christmas for me has almost nothing to do with Christ. My mind goes to visits of family, gift buying, and all the excitement of the season.
While Keller’s talk was not related to the season of Christmas, it made me decide to write this column, enabling me to share with you what should be exciting to me, and the world, about Christ’s coming to Earth.
My self-admonition was, “Fine, Art, enjoy all the festivities, but for goodness sake, take into your being what really happened when Christ came to Earth, and also share it with others, because there are many just like you, who get so busy, we let the activity crowd out the meaning."
Well, what did Keller say that grabbed you and registered with you so deeply that you decided to tell everybody else? In my 75 years on this planet, I have witnessed a sea change; people used to be excited to be Christians, so much so that they built churches all over town, where they gathered throughout the week and brought their friends. Today, we are tearing these churches down and replacing them with houses.
What happened? We have lost the excitement that overtook the Western world in the centuries that followed Christ’s birth based on the joy and truth claims he brought to the world. It is as though we now think that we have got life figured out, and don’t think we need a god to tell us how to live. Besides that, he might tell me to do things I don’t want to do or tell me not to do things that I want to do.
But, if we are honest with ourselves, shouldn’t we desire to know if what he said is true or not? If the way he tells us to live is true, and we don’t seek it but go our own way, won’t we miss out? If he is God, which he said he is, wouldn’t he know better, and wouldn’t we be wise to at least know what he says, and compare it to our own thinking?
Some say that he is among the 20 topmost influential people who ever lived; others say, he’s among the top 10. Some place him among the top two, with Buddha. Yet, Buddha said of himself he is not God, and instead pointed people to live by his teachings.
Christ, on the other hand, said he is God, and while he taught us how to live, he knew to do so was beyond our ability, and paid the penalty for our waywardness with his own life. Now, we no longer have to carry that weight – we are free.
Now, my prayer for myself is, Lord, help me to have my priorities right; help me first to celebrate your coming this Christmas and second, to enjoy everything else. Amen.
P.S.: If you would like to hear this explained much better than I have described it, go to redeemer.com and scroll to 'What evidence is there for the truth of Jesus' claims?'
From the Bible: Christ said, I have come in order that you might have life - life in all its fullness.