A Modern Christmas Miracle

This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them, but God was merciful to me in order that Christ Jesus might show his full patience in dealing with me, the worst of sinners, as an example for all those who would later believe in him and receive eternal life.

— 1 Timothy 1:15-17 (GNV)

If Jesus came into the world to claim chosen people of proper lineage, selected before birth and preserved holy for His glorious kingdom, then I am without hope.

I’m not one to boast about past sinfulness. Some folks say I was a lightweight, anyway. But I am still jealous, prideful, greedy, hot-headed and lazy — that’s a partial list. As Paul says, I AM the worst! If it isn’t true, then it’s another example of pride and arrogance, and that’s bad enough.

Some people like a little earthiness in their pastor, but those who think I’m too worldly are correct. As Paul also said in the book of Romans, “O wretched man that I am!” Yes, we’re sinners, and it isn’t OK, and we ought to do better to honor our Lord. But here we are, imperfect and error-proned. Now what? Now God steps in.

We celebrate the Christmas miracle, a virgin birth and a guiding star to fulfill ancient prophecy. We celebrate a miraculous life of healing, interrupted by shameful death on the cross and culminating in resurrection and ascension to glory. We celebrate a cloud of witnesses martyred for the faith or dedicated to lives of selfless service.

I celebrate another Christmas miracle. I celebrate how Christ lives today through imperfect people like us, overcoming and sometimes using our imperfections to share His love.

As you light a Christmas candle this year, let it remind you that YOU are the light of the world. Thanks be to God!

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Take the red pill

Outlaws? Radicals? You go, sis! Bro! Take the red pill. I see a lot of radical beliefs, but professing any particular thought is not as life-threatening or illegal as it once was or is elsewhere. So let’s move on with a few ideas that might also broadcast the message.

1. Don’t buy Christmas gifts. Think we’ve over-commercialized our annual Common Era Anniversary events? Stop feeding the beast. Generosity need not be seasonal.

2. Throw away the pulpit. If you think pastors shouldn’t be on a pedestal, get off the pedestal. We might consider spending less time on the soapbox as well.

3. Spend more on missions. Use your vote, your influence, and your office to direct a higher percentage of church funds to feeding the poor, housing the homeless and healing the sick. Where’s your heart? Hint: follow your treasure.

4. Insert beatitudes here.

You want to be radical? Revolutionary? There was this preacher who proved his God content by giving his life away, because he thought it belonged to God and drew from God’s endless supply He lived like he actually believed the scripture, ignoring the cost, and it was enough to reset the calendar.

Some think he took the blue pill. Others think he didn’t, but his biographers did. I think he had the right ideas, and his biographers gave it an honest effort.

We remember Saint Francis and Mother Theresa not for their opinions, but for their service. A belief is an opinion, but a life of service makes a statement. Did we benefit from their fantasy, or were they operating with a clearer view of reality?

Take the blue pill and have a nice dream, or take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.