Summary: 2nd sermon in series in which I challenge people to evaluate how they typically observe Christmas with the hope they will seek to make it more about Jesus and less about us. I draw some thoughts from Mike Slaughter's book "Christmas is not your birthday"
AM Sermon preached at Central Christian Church December 8, 2013
A Different Kind of Christmas sermon series Message 2 “Giving Up on Perfect”
Christmas. For most of us the word, “Christmas,” overflows with meaning and memories. The thought, “Christmas is coming,” evokes emotional responses in us. We can’t help it and we can’t fight it. It just does that to us. Maybe our minds become awash with hopeful anticipation....anticipation over the giving and receiving of gifts. Some look forward to shopping for gifts. Many look forward with great anticipation to get-togethers with family and friends...some can’t wait to have some time off---you know, a break from work or from school. Some look forward to experiencing a special kind of warm-fuzzy, for them it’s a holiday thing where something happens that triggers an emotional response that as I remember one woman telling me “made her feel all Christmasy” inside. On the other hand, some people don’t look forward to the coming of Christmas at all---instead of harboring a hopeful anticipation their heart feels rather melancholy or perhaps it has a sense of dread or depression hanging over it. Maybe it’s because they’re dealing with a great loss or maybe they’re battling loneliness. Maybe they’re trying to bounce back from some great disappointment or they’re facing some financial hardships. If your past experiences are anything like mine you’ve found you’re emotions all over the place---one day you’re kind of down because you’ve found yourself thinking of loved ones who have passed---another day you’re feeling up because you’re looking forward to spending time with people you love. And then there are some days that are emotional roller coasters. You’re up, you’re down, you’re excited, you’re bored.
When we look closely into the pages of the Bible where the stories of what happened that first Christmas we find or at least can sense this same wide range of emotions taking place. But that’s just it----lots of people don’t take the time to look closely at what’s in the Bible, instead they mistakenly presume to know what it has to say about that first Christmas. And for that matter lots of people also wrongly presume to know what the Bible has to say on many other things too. Presuming to know what’s in the Bible instead of checking to see what’s in the Bible, my friends, is a dangerous thing. It’s dangerous not physically but spiritually. I’ll explain----when someone assumes they know what’s in the Bible rather than take the time to actually learn what’s in the Bible, they set themselves up to become easy prey to two of faith’s most powerful enemies which often go hand in hand. Those enemies are----#1 lies Satan circulates and #2 false expectations of God.
Here’s an example of how this works----think about this----when’s the last time you’ve ever gone to a funeral and heard someone say something like this about the deceased---- “poor Sue she’s in a worse place now” or “I liked Joe; I really did. But you know he was such a bad person I hate to think of the punishment God’s going to hit him with...”? You’re probably thinking, “Are you kidding me, preacher? People just don’t say those kinds of things, especially about the dead.” And if you’re thinking that people don’t talk that way about the dead, you’re right---for the most part, people don’t talk that way about the dead. Instead people say things like, “We never really talked about whether or not she believed in Jesus. But when I look at her life, I know she was a good person and so I’m confident she’s in a better place now.” or “I know he wasn’t much of a church goer and he rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but people who got close to him, they know he had a good heart and I’m sure he’s in heaven now.” And what’s sad lots and lots of people not only say those things, they believe them---and here’s why---they believe them because they don’t know what’s in the Bible. They assume them because they haven’t done their homework. You see they assume that the Bible teaches us that God welcomes good people into heaven. And they assume that the person that died was a good person. But the Bible doesn’t teach either of those things! Check it out for yourself---the Bible teaches us that no one is good. Romans 3:12 tells us us, “All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Jesus Himself taught that “no one is good---except God alone.” (you’ll find that in Mark 10:18). I mean I suppose God would let a good person into heaven, if such a person existed---but none does. So good people aren’t getting into heaven friends, forgiven people, that’s who get welcomed into heaven. And while God is willing to forgive everyone, He doesn’t forgive everyone. He only forgives those people who put their hope and trust in Jesus and seek God’s forgiveness on God’s terms. But hey don’t take my word for it, look into the book and see what it says.