Friday, December 22, 2006

THE Gift


Short and sweet today. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know it's Christmas. Unless you live outside the United States, you may have noticed the hype of consumerism surrounding Christmas, you may even be caught up in it. The quest for the perfect gift, the "keeping up with the Jones'" that leads to over-buying, and the pressure you may feel to give at all. The western view of Christmas tends to lean towards spending and buying.

My plea this year is for you to just stop and consider the real meaning - the birth of Christ. A Savior for all of us, and trust me - we need saving! And while many will tout the virtues of giving instead of receiving (which is true), in the perspective of eternal life and our inability to obtain it on our own; it's imparitive that we receive the gift of life that Jesus brings to us. Take time this holiday season to do that, would you?

And for my unbelieving friends out there I have a challenge - prove me wrong. Study the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus with all seriousness and show me how off track I am. I will listen I promise. Perhaps next year we can celebrate together the greatest gift of all.

Peace......

4 Comments:

At 6:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you on the birth, life, and importance of Jesus, and I wish I had taken the time to focus more. Maybe this is not the season (although in a few months it will be), but since you raise a challenge and offer openness, would you be open to a discussion of the "necessity" of the death (since you brought it up)? Just wondering. I'll check back.

 
At 6:00 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Hi anonymous -

Thanks for stopping by and taking time to read this stuff. I would be more than open to a discussion (in or out of season) and would offer you a choice to continue it here, where things are a bit public; or we can continue it with more privacy at this address: tom@aldersgatelive.org

And for the public record I'm not here to change your mind, that's not my job. I just enjoy sharing the journey and your thoughtfulness in sharing yours is very appreciated. Thanks again for joining me.

 
At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I may e-mail you later on, but for now, let me share some conversations that have come my way that I've been giving some thought to and just wondering...

It was asked of me, "Do you belive you are saved by the blood of Christ?". I have difficulty with that statement. Normally, my answer would have been a resounding, "Yes!". But this time, I balked. I've been "accused" of being too cognitive (and I used the term "accused" lightly) for overthinking and not allowing for the emotional component of God. But here was my side of the discussion (paraphrasing):

I believe in the life and teachings of Christ. I also believe in his death. But I've begun believing more in his saving power and grace from his life than his death. I don't remember him telling anyone that "Through my death you will be saved" or "I will give my life for you". Seems to me that he offered grace in his immediate relationships. He offered the love of God through what he taught. Seems to me that he came to teach mankind, AGAIN, what God's love is about, since the leaders of the 'church' turned God's love into a conditional state that was only achieved through following the laws. It was about how you acted, who you were in society, and going through the priest to get in God's favor. Christ came to bring man closer to God by showing us that He was about relationship, love, and grace.

So, was it through Christ's LIFE that we are brought back God, or was another DEATH required by God to bring us back to Him?

I know in the Old Testament that God asked for sacrifice to be brought, so people were to bring the best of what they had. And maybe that is still what He wants from us. Will we sacrifice for others? Will we sacrifice ourselves for our spouse, kids, community, strangers, God? Will we treat and regard others as Christ taught? This seems to me to be enormously more important than blood.

I can respect the symbolism of blood. Sacrifice. Ultimate sacrifice. But again, this seemed to be a voluntary act to comply with the demands of society, but was it a sacrifice for me? You? I fail to see how the death of Christ brings me closer to God. It's been His life that has enabled me to feel like I can have a personal relationship with my Creator... that I can turn to Him... that I can ask Him questions... that I can thank Him directly.

Lots of thoughts...

 
At 8:46 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Hey Lots of thoughts - apologies for the delay in our conversation, a family ski trip has kept me out of pocket for a few days. Again, I really appreciate your candidness and thoughts. In this public forum our conversation can be joined by others with their 2 cents, and I actually hope that happens.

You mention that there was a time that your answer to the question of being saved through the blood of Christ (his death for you) would have been "yes", but that now you think differently. What changed, when did it change? I appreciate your understanding of the differences between sacrifice and symbolism of blood, but you must know that the two are ultimately entwined in this instance. Not coincidentally either, God certainly knew what He was doing.

And while the daily living of Jesus' life offers us shining examples of grace, peace and hope; He clearly stated that He had come to die and be resurrected (Luke 9:21-22). It was the fulfillment of His purpose and He knew it, that only in the dying (sacrifice, blood) could He overcome death (something we can't do without faith in Him) and make a way for us to live eternally with Him, which is God's will for all of us. Our sin keeps us from doing that. Sure we can all live lives that have a measure of goodness and happiness (unbelievers do it daily), but God is concerned with the part of life we can't see (eternity) while we are too often caught up in the here and now. However, I believe that the abundant life Jesus promised begins here and now, not just when we die.

God does indeed call us to a life of sacrifice for our neighbors, family, etc., just as you mentioned. And while most of us will never be crucified on a cross as a display of that sacrifice, we will all die. In order to live eternally with God, Jesus had to die - to shed His blood for us. Sad, yes. Tragic, yes. Beautiful in the act of love that is was....absolutely.

Look forward to hearing from you and others.

 

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