We have arrived in the last month of the year, the month in which we, Christians, celebrate the birth of Christ. But as we celebrate is this the hard and cruel reality of our world: Many hundred thousands hungry, hunted, helpless African people, increasing chaos and violence in the Middle East, increasing hatred between fanatic religious groups and an increasing egoistic materialism in the Western countries. We all know that many more disturbing conditions and developments could be mentioned.
We will go to Church on Christmas and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Pastors and priests are looking forward to full churches, especially those whose churches are usually nearly empty on Sundays. Shops hope to do profitable business, selling their products of lights and glitter for Christmas. Many Christians will celebrate a cosy, quiet and romantic Christmas in their home together with their families. We will have candlelight, a Christmas tree and much delicious food. Our post - and mailboxes are filling up with advertisements, not only of worldly businesses but also of Christian organisations and firms, trying to sell their special Christmas magazines and products.
We celebrate the birth of Jesus on the 25th of December. But we are quite sure of it now that He was not born on that date and also the year of his birth on which our era is based is wrong, for Jesus was born four to six years earlier than the year '0' A.D. Why then do we celebrate His birth on the 25th of December? Because our European forefathers of centuries ago when converted from heathenism to Christianity still wanted to keep some of the folklore of their traditional heathen feast of that date.
Do I make a plea to do away with the traditional Christmas celebration? No, I don't. I am not going to put my energy in trying to do that. De date of our yearly celebration of the birth of Christ is of minor importance to the wonderful and timeless message of Christmas. Jesus' birth can be celebrated any day of the year for this historic event is of timeless, eternal and spiritual value. So be glad and sing the wonderful Christmas songs of adoration to our Lord and meditate on the story, the truth and the wonderful consequences of his birth and life. He was born like us all, exercised a ministry of truth and mighty deeds of grace and love. He became despised and rejected and died on a Roman cross. Why? To save us from the guilt of sin and to atone us with the Most High God. But his death led to his resurrection from the grave and now He lives eternally as Saviour and Lord. Let us proclaim on Christmas this wonderful message, the full Gospel. Yes, worship Him, receive Him in your heart and give Him your love and dedication and if need be, renew your loyalty to Him.
Surely, I too want to celebrate the birth of Christ in this world so full of misery and quite hopeless conditions. However, I want to celebrate it with a greater consciousness of my free duty as a Christian to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ in this tormented and dying world. He is the answer for sinful, imperfect men and women. Against the reality of this cursed world in which people that were created after Gods image are hunted, tormented and killed as animals, I place not the romantic atmosphere of a glittering Christmas party but the reality of Gods historic plan of salvation that became active through and in Jesus Christ. Ages of preparation preceded his birth but He came as was promised.
So we have a message for the people this day. Let us look around and observe where we can help people in the name of Jesus. Let us carefully observe where we can help to bring light in a darkened heart, where we can offer a way out for somebody that is held bondage by evil natural and spiritual powers. Let us look around where we can comfort a suffering one and support the stumbling. If we do this we share the peace of Christ, His Shalom, His Salvation. In doing this our Christmas is made serviceable to the will of God. Is it not glorious that we are called to proclaim and demonstrate that God is of good will to people? He wants them saved, delivered, healed and empowered. He wants to give desperate men a hopeful future. But please realize that to do this He also needs you and me.
Here is a question I leave with you. Please ask yourself: "Am I prepared to sacrifice a little romantic activity of this Christmas to point those, who are in distress and darkness to the glorious possibilities that have become available through the birth, the life and the death of Jesus Christ?"
T. J. de Ruiter (Pentecostal pastor & Bible teacher in The Netherlands)
T. J. de Ruiter