THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

WAITING FOR CHRISTMAS – 3

Deep in the human heart there is fear and sadness. There seems to be an innate awareness that something is not right. So many people are on anti-depressants. So many people escape into addictions to mask or to avoid the unhappiness and stresses of their lives. The need to succeed, the need to be accepted, the need to be loved, weigh heavily upon people.

The Bible calls humans ‘lost’. Always seeking meaning. Always seeking purpose. Always looking but never finding – because they do not even know where ‘home’ is. Waiting for something that will give them permanent and real peace and joy, but with no idea where to look or what they are looking for.

They are ‘waiting for Christmas’, but they do not know it. And Christmas after Christmas passes and they do not see that here, in this Christ child, is their true ‘home’, their true meaning, the One who can give them the deepest peace and the greatest joy.

Sadly, there are also Christians, people with real and saving faith in the real Jesus, who are still ‘waiting for Christmas’. Years of performance-based, legalistic teaching have smothered the truth about Christmas. Faithfully they serve God, year after year. Diligently they strive to obey the biblical commands. But they have no peace with God. They have no inner joy. They have been robbed by the very people who are entrusted with the responsibility of giving them the Word of life. They have been deceived into believing that their wrong actions or lack of right actions can undo the saving work of Jesus Christ.

I remember speaking to a group of Christian ladies about the peace with God that is ours in Christ Jesus, and the deep joy of sins forgiven and justification by faith that are ours in Christ. After I had finished a lovely eighty year old who had been faithful to Jesus Christ all her life came to me with tears streaming down her face and said ‘Rosemary, I have been waiting all my life to hear that!’

And I thought ‘How incredibly and terribly sad!’

This woman was a Christian. She was saved. Because of her faith in Christ she already had forgiveness of sins. But she was still ‘waiting for Christmas’. Still waiting for the peace. Still waiting for the joy. It was hidden under all the rules and expectations of legalistic teaching. And there are many, many Christians like her. Deeply troubled by guilt. Afraid of God’s rejection. Their sins still weighing them down like a heavy weight on their hearts, a great burden on their shoulders. With no assurance of salvation.

But did not the angel tell the shepherds: ‘I bring you good news of great joy’? Did not the heavenly choir sing ‘peace to men’?
Did not the Christ say ‘my peace I leave with you’?
Did not the apostles say that Christians ‘are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy’? and that ‘we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’?

This peace and joy promised by the angels and affirmed by Jesus Christ and his apostles, is the purpose and result of Christmas. It is not peace and joy that froths up once a year at Christmas time then is seen no more. It is not superficial – like the tinsel or the wrapping paper. Rather it is embedded deep within Christmas – deep within Jesus Christ.

If you have received the Gift, Jesus Christ, you also have the peace and the joy. No more waiting – no more waiting for Christmas.

Scriptures: Luke 2:10,14; John 14:27; 1Peter 1:8; Romans 5:1.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2014