Summary: How are we as followers of Jesus to react to the "Christmas War" that is going on in our society? We find the answer in 1 Peter 3.8-16. We must be careful as followers of Christ to reveal His way not ours.
Title: Holding On To Christmas
Text: 1 Peter 3.15
CT: Christmas is about revealing His way not ours.
FAS: I imagine that almost everyone here this morning is familiar with Charlie Brown in the comic strips. Christmas for me as a child was filled with Charlie Brown. Well, a few years ago the comic strip had Lucy walking up to Charlie Brown just before Christmas & saying to him, "Charlie Brown, since it is Christmas, I suggest that we lay aside all our differences & be friends for this season of the year."
Charlie Brown says, "That's a great idea, Lucy, but why does it have to be just at this time of the year? Why can't we be friends all year long?"
Lucy looks at him with that look that only Lucy can get & says, "What are you, a fanatic or something?" (1)
1 (Newland, Melvin; Sermon Holding On To Christmas, opening illus. Sermon Central)
LS: As followers of Jesus are we to be a bit fanatical about Christmas?
Good question I thought. What is the answer? [Screen 2]
But what are we fanatical about? Are we fanatical about the tree and the decorations? Is Christmas all about the gifts we receive? Is it about getting our way and indulging in things we love to do?
We hear about the "War on Christmas". Maybe you are bothered by the fact that some places don’t allow their employees to say Merry Christmas? Maybe you are bothered by the fact a Nativity Scene can’t be displayed in a publicly owned setting? How do we as followers of Jesus react to this?
I pondered on this a lot. Are we to become defiant and fight back with megaphone yells of Merry Christmas to those who don’t want to hear it? Would that help?
Should we have sit ins with nativity scene characters on government property so people will be forced to look at it? Wouldn’t Jesus command us to do such things? Is that what he did? [screen 3]
Hardly. In no way was the first Christmas forced on anyone. Jesus entered our world in the most humble way possible. He came as a baby who would save us not by force or defiance, but by sharing his love for us to the point of dying for us to defeat death and darkness. We have a God who is alive and in control of all things. We made that clear last week. Jesus fills every hole in our life, we said, when we make Him king of our heart.
I purposely had us sing I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day today. It says:
I heard the bells on Christmas day their old familiar carols play,
And wild & sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong, & mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Yet pealed the bells more loud & deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.”
- by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I love these words. God is not dead!!! Can you say that with me? God’s not dead.
So how do we answer the "War on Christmas"? How do we answer those who would want to do away with Christmas? How do we react to the hate that is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth at Christmas?
What do we, as followers of Jesus need to do to Hold On To Christmas?
I look to the Apostle Peter this season to find the answer for us. Please get out your Bible and follow along as I read his words, breathed from God, from in 1 Peter 3.8-16. [Screen 7]
8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
As followers of Jesus we are to love one another. We must look past our differences and dwell on our common ground, which is found in Jesus Christ. Be tender in action to one another. [Screen 8]
9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Peter is writing this letter to people who were being persecuted for doing the will of God. We can react in three different ways.
i) Evil for good. That is how the Devil would do it.
ii) Evil for evil, which is what our human tendency is. Get revenge. Get back at somebody for disagreeing or mocking us.