Interview with Emma. Birthday 26 Dec.
I have another friend who has to share his birthday with the Christmas celebration.
His name is Jesus. And I wonder how he feels about it. Probably much the same as Emma.
So much of what happens at Christmas time has solittle to do with the birth of Christ.
And some Christian voices can be pretty harsh with regards to how Christmas should and should not be celebrated.
Some people say we shouldn’t put up Christmas trees, others say we shouldn’t use the colours red and green (‘pagan’ colours). Others say we should avoid this and that, or must do this and that.
It can be hard (if not a little legalistic) for Christians to know how to best celebrate the birth of their Saviour.
We might well ask ourselves the question: ‘What would Jesus do?’イエスならどうするでしょうか？
How would He celebrate His birthday?
It’s here that 1Cor 10:23 becomes especially meaningful.
23 All things are lawful forme, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.
This tells us that we have an extraordinary amount of freedom in Christ in the way we live and celebrate (“all things arelawful”), so long as we are not sinning, of course.
And so we find that all things (which are notsinful) are lawful/permissible, but not all things are beneficial.
And this ‘beneficial aspect’ is perhaps, the place we should focus on in our Christmas celebrations.
(This is something that the Thursday night groupmeeting at the Langfords’ has been studying. We have this great freedom in Christ to celebrate pretty much however we like – eating whichever foods we please and giving gifts to each other etc) but the problem is that if other believers (with a “weak conscience”) are affected by the way we celebrate, thenwe might have to modify our behaviour so as not to cause trouble or discouragement to others who share the faith.)
To cut to the chase on this matter, the bottom line of it all is that we “Do everything for the gloryof God.” 1 Cor 10:31 If we keepth is in mind, we can’t go too far wrong.
When we go to work, we do it for the glory of God.
When we rest at home, we do it for the glory of God.
When we worship in church, we do it not for ourselves or each other but for the glory of God.
And when we celebrate Christmas, again, we do it for the glory of God.
“All cultural compromise is rooted in the failure to be committed to the glory of God.” David Hocking
Now, other people’s conscience aside, how do wedeal with this freedom ourselves? How do we make certain that what we’re doing is really glorifying God? How do we make sure that we’re not just fooling ourselves into thinking that we’re glorifying God?
Let’s explore 1 Cor 10:23 a little further:
– the beneficial 益になること
– the lawful/permissible 法にかなっていること/してもよいこと
We also have
– the compromised 妥協すること
– the sinful 罪深いこと
While there’s a huge difference between what is beneficial and what is sinful, there can be a fine line (and an easy slide) from one of the these categories of living (or celebrating) into the next. (What is one drink too many?)
The prophet Zephaniah had to deal with such aslide in his day:
I will destroy every remnant of Baal worship in this place,
the very names of the idolatrous priests— sin 罪
those who bow down on the roofs
to worship the starry host,
those who bow down and swear by the Lord
and who also swear by Molek, compromise 妥協
those who turn back from following the Lord
and neither seek the Lord nor inquire of him.” permissible? してもよいこと？
We can easily understand that those who worship other gods – who commit idolatry – will be cut off from God, but here, even those who stop seeking Him and following Him are cut off with the others. There is no neutral ground.
This brings us back to Christmas.
We want to make sure that our celebrations are beneficial, edifying, and glorifying to God.
When we celebrate Christmas, when we do whatever is “permissible” in our freedom in Christ, let’s make sure that
– we don’t cause offense to others, and
– we never stop seeking Him or following Him in the midst of our celebrations because when we do, we have fallen from the permissible into compromise and sin, and God will have none of that.
The way to ensure that our Christmas celebrationis beneficial/edifying is really quite simple.
As with all things, we keep our eyes focussed on Jesus. By keeping our focus on Jesus, we glorify God.
And the more we focus on Jesus, the more beneficial it is for us.
– So we reflect on and marvel at the miraculous conception of Jesus – the moment that God entered our world.
– We consider, astounded, the helplessness of Godthe baby, left in the care of a young Jewish couple.
– We study and learn all that he said and taught and demonstrated in His ministry.
– We remember His atoning death and what that means.
– We celebrate his resurrection.
– We embrace his Holy Spirit whom He sent for usto live full lives.
– As we celebrate, we reflect on all these things and more – all of which stem from that great act of love when God came down and became one of us.
Let me finish with this:
One of the many beauties of the Christmas message is that it can be found not just in the 4 gospels but throughout the whole Bible, old and new testaments: Genesis, Isaiah, Zephaniah, Luke,Colossians, Revelation. Elements of the Christmas miracle run right through the Bible.
Let me share with you one of those as delivered through the OT prophet Zephaniah who was speaking of the great Immanuel to come.
The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in hislove he will no longer rebuke you,
butwill rejoice over you with singing.”
Meditate on this.
Be edified this Christmas!