Monday, December 16, 2013

The Christmas Story; Ways We Miss It

Yesterday at our church in Winona, we heard about the Christmas Story in a way that I'd never thought about before. During my devotional time this morning, I found myself coming back to the message that was preached to us yesterday, feeling inspired but also convicted in my heart (both being good things for growth in my opinion). Pastor Rick shared about how there are many you see within the Christmas Story who just "missed it" or how they "missed the first Christmas" when it was happening right in front of them. And I found myself relating to a lot of those characters, two of them that I didn't know were even possible to relate to. It was crazy because every year of my life that we've gone through the Christmas Story, countless of times, I've never seen this before. I love that about God's Word though--there's always something that can be learned or some little nugget of truth that you missed and someone else points it out to you. 

If you know the Christmas Story, you know that there was a guy (who it's safe to say suffered from severe paranoia) called King Herod. He was 'The King of the Jews' and if you look at the history surrounding him, you can find that he killed many people, including those close to him. Upon his death, he supposedly decreed that a group of distinguished men who were working for him should be put to death immediately after he died, all to get the desired affect of people to really mourn him. He also had his second wife executed because she was so beautiful supposedly and it's also known that three of his own sons were executed (as he feared they wanted his throne and were conspiring against him). He killed many people and is referred to as a madman to this day. He was obsessed with the idea that people were out to get him and his throne. At the birth of Jesus, in the Bible King Herod heard about his birth and it says 'he was greatly disturbed', to the point where he issued a decree that all boys in Bethlehem under age 2 to be killed (Matthew 2:3-18). In a sad conclusion, this man missed Christmas because he was fearful--fearful that another was going to take "his" throne.

Okay, so how in the world did I relate to this ^ ^ ^ guy you're probably wondering. Well to put it plainly, by ourselves we are like Herod because we don't want someone to force us off of "our" throne. By ourselves, we don't want Jesus on the throne as the Lord of our life. In truth, our own selfish desires want us on the throne always and Jesus at our beck n' call. Our own human nature wants everything to bow at our feet. 

Ouch. Yes it's very humbling to think about, comparing yourself/myself to a man who went down in history as a madman. It seems very unlikely to relate to him until you see the very obvious truth that so often times we miss Christ being in our midst because we simply don't want to get off the throne that rightly belongs to Him. I know I struggle with this daily, just as many of you also struggle too.

And then there are the Romans, who missed Christ being with them because they were so entangled up in their False Gods or Idols. The Romans ruled during the time Jesus was on the Earth and during this time they worshiped their Roman deities in their temples. They fell before statues and bowed low to them, devoting much of their time, money and selves to these deities. 

You probably know where I'm going to go with this. How can we relate? Today, idol worship still exists and we love to worship things. We live in a culture that loves to worship idols such as technology. People spend hours with their technology, whether that be on their computer to spend hours playing video games, on Facebook (which let's just face it is all about making ourselves appear to look a certain way we truly don't in reality) and I know that my husband and I struggle with letting the first thing we do in the morning and even the last thing we do at night is grab our i-phones and be glued to them for however long. We're buying alarm clocks to avoid this just an fyi...it's an icky feeling doing that as a newly married couple! The point is, it may look like what the Romans were doing was completely messed up and 'different' but it's totally not. It's the same today, it's just in other forms now. And like the Romans, we devote much of our time, self and money to these 'idols', which is another way we miss God being in our midst.

But even after all these things, Christ still wants to be our hope. He still wants to be our Emmanuel, God with us! He wants to be with us. Even though we miss the Christmas Story in so many ways during the Holiday Season, just like these people, and even afterwards, Jesus Christ still wants to dwell with us! And that is what Christmas is all about--Jesus, coming to give us redemption and a second chance. He wants to dwell in us and us to dwell with Him. Life throws so many distractions at us, whether that be our own selves, idols such as technology, money, material things and more that want to consume our time and love. But even though life throws these distractions at us, we have hope! We don't have to miss God being in our midst; we have a choice. We can either choose to be preoccupied by things such as fear, selfish desire, false gods in our lives and let those things rule over us or we can say "God, you are on the throne. It's all about you".

I pray that my thoughts here might speak out to someone else. I think we get so busy with the material aspects of Christmas time that we forget and miss out on the true meaning, as it is so easy to do in our world. We just need to remember that Jesus is the reason and that He wants us to give ourselves just as He gave Himself. It's the season of giving and it's so refreshing to know that Christ came to give us second chance and wants to dwell with us, even in the midst of all our dirt. Let Christmas be a warm reminder of this very wonderful truth!

With love,
Sarah

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