Here we are… Thursday, December 5th. That means we are 20 days away from the day we as a nation celebrate Christmas! And we as Christians, celebrate the birth of our Rescuer/Savior Jesus Christ!!
How wonderful it is as we draw near to the day… with the thoughts of snow, the lights & decorations, the nativity sets in our homes & the stories & expectations of time to be spent with loved ones & friends. And as the decorations… the tree… & the lights & gifts all amaze us – this little baby Jesus lies in our nativities, representing the HOPE that all our hearts desire. The hope for peace, for joy, for happiness that is eternal. And no lights, gifts, glitter or expectations of this earth will ever satisfy – as the HOPE found in him.
Can you imagine, back over 2,000 years ago… how the hope of the Jewish people must have seemed to be so forgotten? It had been a long time since the prophecies of the messiah were spoken. So long being in captivity. So long living under the rule of other governments. If we remember, the prophet Isaiah… in Isaiah 9 spoke these words: “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” (vs.6-7) But it’s been so long… & so many generations have passed. And yet, where is this messiah?
Well, he came. He came in the night… quietly, humbly & simple. He came in the form of us – mankind. He came in a stable, with just his mom & dad… and some dirty farm animals. Hmmm… not all “up in himself” or “fanfare” or “earth shattering” entrance. No… he came just like any other baby - any other child. God himself, now here to dwell with man.
Now, I’m “just thinkin’” about how amazing it is that him came quietly in the still of the night… amongst the “every day” people, through a process that was undeniably scandalous. Born to a virgin? Mary, pregnant with a child that was not Joseph’s? And, though they were legally bound to each other (betrothed) they were not yet living together.
It’s almost as if God was making it clear from the start… that any & all are loved by Him & able to be reconciled to Him again – thru this little baby, Jesus. All presumptions, man-made ideas & plans & righteous acts were “stripped away” – leaving only 1 way back to Him! Wow… I’m not sure I’ve ever taken the time to see this, in the actual birth of Jesus, before!!
So, I’m “just thinkin’” now… that this sheds a whole new light on a passage in Luke 14. It’s a passage I read in my personal reading time this week - verses 26-27:
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Wow… that seems really harsh…huh?
Well, if we truly think about it - many of us Christians never really think about the cost of being a disciple. And, it’s pretty evident in the Christian realm, that the “cost of being a disciple” isn’t talked or taught much. But my friends, it must be considered, realized, preached & taught!
These few verses make it very clear… that if we are truly wanting to follow God, thru his son Jesus… then there must be a cost paid – there will be a cost paid. And it is simply due to the facts that:
- Our life will look different, because it has been changed on the inside
- Our life will be different, because as the heart changes it’s focus on Godly things… the outward desires, actions & decisions will change in a Godly way
- It will… or should affect all our relationships, with some of them possibly ending
That’s right! And that’s what Jesus is saying here in these verses.
In the following verses, down thru verse 33… Jesus gives examples to show us the importance of truly considering the cost of following him. Anything we set out to do, we usually have a cost to consider. A cost of $. A cost of time. A cost relationships possibly affected, opportunity & future effects, etc.. But have you & I ever really considered the cost or taught about the cost of being a Christ follower? That’s what he makes so very clear here in these verses.
He is calling you to stop your relationships, but to realize that you & I have been called to “full-out” follow Him – at the cost of even our closest relations, if we are forced or find them degrading to our relationship to Him. All out Jesus!!
Ya’ know… I’m “just thinkin’”, there is nothing glorious about a feed trough. There’s nothing glorious about a bed of straw. There’s nothing glorious about being born amongst dirty farm animals. There’s nothing glorious about coming in the “still” of night… with no family around… no baby shower… & no gender reveal party.
Now he did have a pretty awesome “birth announcement”… but that was only to some shepherds. Shepherds out in a field - at that! In fact, we as His children… have received more “fanfare” for our births – than God himself received. Now that’s just CRAZY!
So, I ask myself… “Am I willing to go ‘full-out’ for my Rescuer, Savior, Redeemer – my God”? He did for me… right? He did for you… right?
Yes, I am willing. It can be a bit scary to say that… because it means any & all things can change in what my life is like here on earth. Bu then again… I’ve been promised a land far greater than here. I’ve been promised a home, far grander that the one my family now lives in. I’ve been promised a body, & health far superior than that I have now. And… I’ve been promised eternal life – that has already started from the day I received His gift of Jesus, forgiveness… & grace.
And as I say this… I don’t dare think that this choice will be easy at all. It’s a decision that goes totally against the philosophy of this world. But I’ve seen & tasted God’s goodness… & I know He holds to His promises & that He is completely faithful to those who belong to Him.
So as imperfect as I am & always will be, here on earth - I seek a perfect God, who is molding me, trimming me & teaching me how to be more like His likeness while I live with my family, friends & acquaintances here on earth. Imperfectly seeking the Perfect One! I will enjoy this life, & the blessings I’ve received. But I yearn to be known by Him, and others… that it is He who I followed & served at all costs, to my last breath.
How ‘bout you my friend? He gave so much. Are you ready to go “full-out” for Him?
For without Him, there would be no Christmas.