|Posted by whybelieveinjesus on December 17, 2013 at 5:35 PM|
It's Christmas time! Everywhere I go there are decorations, Christmas music and uplifted spirits at the idea of seeing family, sharing gifts and eating plenty on and around 25th December. It's the same every year and we're familiar with the format. The video below sums up Christmas nicely, and I'm sure you'll be able to identify with some of it!
If you watched the video to the end, you'll see that there could be so much more to Christmas than just simply the commercialism and great expenditure we are used to. It celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, and I see in society around me that Jesus is dusted off temporarily over the Christmas period and features on the odd card or two and is sung of in carols on the doorstep. But come Boxing Day, it's time to pack him up again until perhaps Easter when Jesus might get a mention alongside the bunnies and the eggs.
I find this tragic.
The UK now would probably class itself as a multi-cultural, multi-faith society founded on Christian roots and I don't disagree. But whilst there are many devout followers of a huge array of religions and faiths present in the country right now, I'd still say that the majority fall into the category of "Christian apathetic". What do I mean by that? I mean that a significant percentage of the population would tick Christian on the census, tell people that they believe in God and see themselves going to heaven one day because they've tried to be decent people, but otherwise Christ has no bearing on their lives. God comes out for special occasions such as Christmas, weddings, funerals, christenings and Easter. He also features in conversation when someone needs to assign blame when there's no one else to point the finger at, or when we're in need of help or comfort. Suddenly someone who otherwise has no time for God begins to pray and begs for answers.
God loves to hear our prayers and does answer them, but He is not a genie, there when we want him and then disappears once our wishes have been granted. To know and love God requires more than just attending church once or twice a year (or even 52 times a year!), being in possession of a Bible or being related to a vicar. It is a personal commitment that each and every one of us makes independently of one another, but which is open to anyone and everyone regardless of what's happened in the past or how bad we've been.
But making a commitment to Christ - being a Christian - is so much more than just acknowledging that perhaps God exists, and getting Him out of His box at seasonally appropriate moments. Jesus called us to take up our crosses to follow him (Matt 16:24) which means more than just having a vague sense of the divine - it means going out of our way to live for Him and inevitably even to suffer for Him. It's not an easy request, but Jesus also said "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it". (Matt 7:13-14) He knew that He was asking a lot but it is such a worthwhile commitment because its consequences are eternal. Contrary to popular thinking, heaven is not a reward for good behaviour but a totally undeserved gift. It's offered to you right now, but you cannot just have God on your terms when it suits you. Look to Christ, read what He says about Himself and about His Father in the gospels and see if He can meet your needs better than anything this material world can offer at you.