Summary: What really is the point of being a Christian at Christmas time? What really is the point at all? Let me share what God has been working in my heart and life of late. Perhaps He will speak to you as well.
What Is On My Heart This Christmas – 2007
As most of you know, I had surgery a couple of days ago. The procedure went well and my recovery is going as expected. My wife is taking very good care of me and making sure that I have what I need and that I’m not over-doing things.
My normal schedule is off-track, so my preparation time for today was short. That being the case, I thought today would be a good opportunity to share some of the things that God has been speaking into my heart and life of late, to open myself to all of you a little more than usual and speak from my heart for a few minutes.
You know that I usually invest my study and preparation time in the text that follows the text we studied last week. Today, I want to share some things from my own private time with God. There have been some things that He has shown me and said to me that have impacted me deeply; things that are making changes inside of me that are uncontrollable and necessary.
The first text I would like us to open to is Philippians 3:7-11: “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
I want to focus on the first few words of verse 10, “that I may know Him.” In verse 8, Paul mentions “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jess my Lord”. He goes on and enlarges on that by saying that it isn’t just knowing about Jesus that matters to him, but it is knowing Jesus personally that matters.
What this whole passage says to me, and especially these words I have highlighted, is that self-realization is the wrong direction for me to focus my time and my energies – it is supposed to be about me getting to know Jesus for who He is.
Now, I know those words sound like a platitude, but if we stop and think about them intentionally for a few minutes, we will see that they are anything but a cliché. To focus my time and energies on getting to know Jesus instead of on self-realization means that I have to see everything in my life as being intentional and on purpose from Him and for Him – nothing is haphazard, nothing is coincidence, nothing is by my planning and arranging.
What that means is that I have to see everything in my life as being a part of the means and the method for me to get to know Jesus Christ better. There is no territory of my life that He does not control and influence. There is no work that I do or plan that I have that does not involve Him, even if I am unaware of it. If my plans and work are intentionally focused on Him, that is all well and good. But, if they are not, then that, too, says something about my relationship to Him and what He is going to do in my life.
If He is not the focus of my work and my plans, the Holy Spirit is going to prompt me or nudge me or get my attention somehow – even if it is to allow me to suffer loss in order to get my attentions back to where they ought to be.
To say with Paul, “that I may know Him,” is to abandon myself to the realization that Jesus Christ is in everything that I think, say and do, and that it is all caught up in Him until the very end. You have heard me say this before: there is nothing in my life that Jesus Christ does not lay His finger on and say, “This is mine!” Every aspect of my life has a matching aspect in the life of Christ.
When I am given a gift from someone, I sit with Jesus as He is anointed with the expensive perfume by the woman in Luke 7. When I see someone who is in need of a helping hand, I stand with Jesus facing the man who had been blind from birth in John 9. When I am confronted by someone who is snide to me, rude and insulting to me, I stand with Jesus when He was confronted by the Pharisees and Scribes on any number of occasions. And, when I come before you with a lesson each week, I kneel with Jesus as He knelt and washed His disciples’ feet in John 13.