Marines.Together We Served

Monday, December 10, 2007

Merry Christmas!

In some circles today it is politically incorrect to say Merry Christmas. How has it come to this? Let me offer some thoughts.

As a Christian, the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ is very significant. The Christian message is, after all, the acknowledgement of God’s fulfillment of his promise to provide the human race with a Savior. It is the singular moment in history when God steps onto the world’s stage and offers to be the sacrifice for our sin. Imagine that!

Why is there such strident offense toward the Christian faith when it is simply the story of God’s love for fallen man? It speaks of grace, compassion, forgiveness, restoration, belonging, and redemption. What could possibly be offensive in this?

Is there any person alive today who would deny that we humans are far from perfect? One look at the morning paper and whatever dream world a person lives in is shattered. When it comes to doing the right thing, standing up for beliefs and convictions, defending those who are weak and defenseless, addressing the injustices of the world, holding people accountable for their actions, and protecting the freedoms and values entrusted to us, we fall way short. All of these issues and a lot more are confronted in the Bible.

Then there is the matter of what we think. It is in this arena alone that I was convinced that I needed Jesus Christ in my life. My own thoughts were more troubling to me than anything else. Part of my prayer in accepting Jesus as my Savior was asking him to take control of my thought life – particularly my volatile temper, which I was convinced would get me into serious trouble one day. My mind would wander into paths that startled me, causing me to stop and ask the question, “Why was I thinking that?” At other times I would be downright frightened by the ferocity of my thoughts. I was not raised to think this way. In our family we were taught by example to treat everyone with dignity and respect; to think well of others; and to give folks the benefit of the doubt. So why then did these uninvited thoughts seduce my thinking? Only after I began to study the Bible did I discover that God had very specific things to say about our thought life. The good news is that God can and will cleanse that part of our lives as well.

It was in 1972 that I accepted Christ as my Savior. I was then a sergeant in the Marine Corps. I was so excited about this new relationship with the Lord that I would tell my fellow Marines about it. Many were intrigued since they now saw a definite change in me. Others wanted nothing to do with it. I wasn’t trying to convert anyone. I only shared the best thing that ever happened in my life. I was forgiven of my sin! That’s not just good news – that’s great news!

I’ve heard it described this way in sharing our faith in Jesus: I’m one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is. Let me put it another way: If I believe that I have truly found the answer for man’s problem with sin, would you expect me to keep it to myself? By the same token, if you have a different religious belief and are convinced of it, then I would expect you to say something to me if you care about me as a friend and fellow human being.

The stakes are high. The Bible teaches that man is going to spend eternity in one of two places – heaven or hell. To be silent about my faith in light of the eternal consequences would be criminal on my part. To utter no word of God’s love and forgiveness would reveal my own lack of love for either God or man. In essence I would be saying that I do not care where you spend eternity.

It is for these reasons that Christmas is of particular importance to me. I do care where you will spend eternity. So, if we should meet on the street this Christmas season, and I greet you with “Merry Christmas,” just know that it is because I want you to know Jesus, the one whose birthday we celebrate, the one who came to save us.

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