December 2011 Archives

Merry Christmas: A Reflection


Well, here we are again, at the best and worst time of the year. Christmas. I love it and I hate it. I listen to endless hours of Christmas music (www.pandora.com is wonderful), but refuse to hear musical triteness like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

Christmas is depressing because, for most people, it's a tawdry orgy in honor of materialism run wild. It's an event unworthy of those bearing the image of God. For others, however, it's a time marked by hope and excitement at the dawning of a new day.

Despite this paradox, it's perhaps my favorite time, because it marks - admittedly inaccurately - what is the most astonishing event ever: God becoming a man. It marks the day when hope was born, a day when we began the journey from darkness to glorious light.

I spend a good deal of my time with a community of refugees, a couple different ethnic groups from Burma. Many are professing Christians, some from an ethnic group that is well known among evangelicals as Christians.

I love these people, and enjoy them a great deal. However, I have struggled with their Christianity, which too often seemed to me a name only. A "Christian" was a nice person, someone who God would see as a "good boy" or a "good girl."

I decided to do a little informal research, so I asked a friend what I thought was an easy question, at least for a professing Christian.

"Who goes to heaven?"

"The kingdom of God is not mere words, but power" (I Cor. 4:20 (paraphrased)).


I have struggled for years with this statement of Paul's. If the kingdom of God is power, where is the manifestation of that power among us? It's hard to find. Are we not in the kingdom? I read credible reports from other parts of the world that sound like the next chapter of the book of Acts. But here....

Reading the gospels, I am struck by the actions of Jesus, as he healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, raised the dead, set free those oppressed by demons, and more. Demonstrations of power. And, significantly, he said these things were signs of the arrival of the kingdom. People knew he was legitimate and that the kingdom had come by the acts of power they saw through Jesus.

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