What is the true meaning of Christmas? This question was not as hard to answer before, but now a days it is quite difficult to pin for most of the world. The meaning of Christmas for many people is the simple fact of spending time with loved ones and opening gifts. As much fun as these things are, they still do not define Christmas. These things are only but byproducts of the true meaning and significance of Christmas.
The meaning of Christmas began around 2,000 years ago in the small town of Bethlehem, Israel in a small stable with a new born baby lying in a manager. No rooms at the surrounding inns and the only somewhat reasonable area being a stable. For most people at this time and even today look at the beginning of this story and setting as nothing too far apart from different. But as soon as you add that the baby in the manage was to be King of all things, then things take a little twist.
This past Sunday I conducted a sermon for our small gathering at a local coffee shop that we call our church. The sermon was on the meaning of Christmas through scripture, both in the new testament story line and old testament prophecy. You can listen to the full sermon by clicking the link here to learn more: The Meaning Of Christmas
Hustle and bustle is the tune we all hear on a constant basis day in and day out. People strive and climb the mountains of success and accomplishments with little rest between them. “You have to be a hustler!” Is the cry of the world as the desire for money and fame press hard against us. But with all the hustle and bustle the question remains, “Should Christians live the hustle and bustle lifestyle?” In short, no. Let me explain.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15 NKJV).
We are called as Christians to not love the world or the things in the world. Now many at this point begin to ask the question, “So, should Christians not have nice things?” Depends on how you look at it. Having nice things are a blessing from God, but if the things become an idle in our hearts and we love the blessings rather than the one who blesses, then the nice things are no good.
Enjoying things and loving things are two different things. We are called to praise the Lord for His blessings He bestows upon us. At the same time we are not to love these things, but rather simply enjoy them and utilize them to bring God glory. When we begin to love things we will ultimately begin to replace God with things. Simply put, have nice things, but love God.
Now at this point many of you are wondering what the heck does all this have to do with rest? I’m getting there, so bear with me a bit. We are called to not be like the world, but instead be a separate people unto the Lord. We are therefore called to be different from the world and being different means not partaking in the pattern that the world move about in.
Does this mean we shouldn’t work? Of course it doesn’t mean that. It means we shouldn’t over work and be busy bodies like the world. Does this mean we shouldn’t strive to succeed? Absolutely not! We should still seek to strive to be the best in Christ that we can be by following the calling of God upon our lives.
The difference between the world’s striving and Christian striving is that we strive by the pull of the Spirit and to please the Lord, while the world seeks to please themselves by the pull of their own fleshly desires. When we are living and walking in the Spirit we are then strengthened and empowered to pursue the will of God and enabled to succeed. We are also called to find time to rest and mediate and pray to Lord, and there we can find rest.
Another difference between the world’s way and the Christian way is the fact that the world is restless and adds more to their “to do” list enable to ease their minds from the anxious reality they live in. Christians are called to follow the path of God while being filled with the Holy Spirit who eases our minds and flows through us, directing us to things that the Lord has called us to do. Only when we begin to pursue more than what God has called us to do, do we become weary and restless.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
The world is constantly on the go in order to “bypass” the reality of life and death. There is no rest apart from Christ and there is no rest without the Spirit working in our lives. Let us move with the Spirit and not move ahead or add more than what has been called upon our lives. Let us seek to please the Lord above all else and glorify Him through the blessings, talents and passions He has blessed us with.
Sometimes scripture can be confusing when first read and without the proper teaching to explain the verse in it’s correct context. Luke 14:26 is one of those verses that some Christians get confused about, especially new Christians. But when read in the correct context it is then better understood and correlates correctly with other passages.
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26 NKJV
In this verse we read that we should hate our family members and even our own selves in order to live for Christ and be His disciple. Now at first glance this verse does not make much sense and does not add up with the rest of scripture. Every where else in scripture we read that Jesus wants us to love everyone and treat everyone with kindness, so how does this verse add up?
The word hate in this passage is the Greek word “miseo,” which means to hate, but can also mean to love less. Now when applied to the verse you can then read it as, “If anyone comes to Me and does not love his family and his own self less than Me, he cannot be my disciple.”
The following verse correlates with this by stating, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.” Jesus is simply stating that we should set Him first in our lives, not others or ourselves. As much as we do love our families and friends, we must always set the Lord as God in our life and give Him the most love.
We should deny ourselves and our own desires and following completely after Him while holding nothing back. This my fellow family member in Christ is what Jesus meant within this verse. Let’s give God our all and love Him more than anything while everything and everyone else follows behind Him in love and unity. God bless!