Why do we celebrate Christmas? Why do we as Christians always stress about the importance ofthis day? The value of Christmas hinges upon the power of the gospel that brings us true peace, joy andhope. As we are all familiar, Christmas signifies the advent that is the coming of Christ, the king of kings,the Lord of Lords, in the form of a baby born in a manger. His coming has changed human history for it isthe start of the salvation of human race. Without Jesus, we will be living in constant fear and uncertainty. Without Jesus, we will be seeking for hallow happiness that will never fulfill our greedy hearts. Without Jesus, we are doomed to death lacking an enteral hope that can only be given by Christ. This is why we should pay attention to Christmas. Not only should we receive this best gift in life, but we also should be sharing this gospel to people around us— fulfilling the great commission. In this Christmas season, let’s apply this powerful gospel in two aspects. First, let’s endeavor to embody the newness of life that this newborn king has transformed us into. This newness of life should entail not just willingness to obey but full surrender to God’s calling. Second, let’s think about how to share this irreplaceable peace, joy, and hope among people we have known, praying that they would accept Jesus as their personal savior.
The word of God from Hebrews 13:20-21 reads: Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13 lays out the guideline for Christian lives once we recognize that our body no longer belongs to us but to God. While verse 20-21 seems broad, there are really specific ways we can please God by sacrificing ourselves to the Lord. First, practice brotherly love. Love is a privilege that God gives us. We love because God loves us first. This entails a hospitality that does not discriminate people against their social status or race. This entails a harmonious family relationship in which siblings help each other grow and where parents use godly standard to lovingly discipline their children. Second, set our priorities of life upon Jesus. Do not love money more than we should and be content with what we have. God is our provider. What we have is not our own. Earthly possessions are fleeting glory that is a blessing from God. If we hold so dear to our money that prevent us from offering the tithe on every Lord’s day, we should come before God to repent. All I have is Christ and Christ is enough. If this is not our belief, then we have not grasped the true meaning of Christmas. As Jesus has come to suffer in our place and bear the wrath to save us from eternal death, we should unreservedly sing, “Hallelujah, Jesus is my life!” Third, imitate the faith of godly leaders whose ways will lead us toward the cross rather than away to false values. Such imitation indicates accepting disciplines from our spiritual leaders who love us and willingly lay down themselves to help us become closer to God. This is not guaranteed an easy way, but a way that can please the Lordand stay faithful till Jesus’ second coming.
Once we set ourselves straight with the Lord, now we can consider how to apply this great gospel to unbelievers. Paul has firmly stated in Romans 1 verse 16: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. His statement of faith sets the overtone of our attitude toward preaching the gospel to unbelievers. The true peace, joy, and hope that come from this surpassing gospel should not only come out from mere words but through embodiment of our lives. While it might be easy to say that we attain true peace from God even in times of struggle, we have to testify this by our experience of peace in upset circumstances. While we might state that joy comes in every season, we need to truly attain such a joy and show that to our classmates, our coworkers that we indeed have this joy unspeakable. Same, while we can theoretically state the eternal hope we have in Christ, our faith needs narratives. Therefore this Christmas God calls us to lead a fruitful life that can please Him and bring more people to His throne. This is a challenge that God poses to us each and every year. Sometimes we ignore His calling, but if we do not respond now, when? Can we let God wait to come back to His calling? We have no right to argue with Him. Today is the day that we change our life style to love one another as God has loved us, to prioritize God before all else, and to obey spiritual disciplines. Then, we shall be living testimonies that can naturally draw people to Christ for we have bear the newness of Christ in us.
Yao Ning 2017/12/24 Sermon Reflection