At Christmas people need to know where they will spend eternity
By Dennis Rainey
A week ago I posted the second of a two-blog series: “11 Ways To Celebrate the One Who Made Christmas Famous.”
Over lunch I stopped by the bank to make a deposit. My brief encounter with a teller further convinced me of the need for those of us who follow the Savior to make much of Jesus this Christmas season.
Because of the pandemic I went through the bank drive-through. The teller behind the thick glass window was a young man, perhaps in his late 20s or early 30s. A pleasant young man.
There were no customers in line behind me, so after he helped me with my deposit I thanked him for his work and said, “Merry Christmas. And don’t forget to celebrate the One who made Christmas famous.”
I watched his face carefully as I paused, then asked, “Do you know who made Christmas famous?”
He didn’t flinch … his answer was instant and confident as he responded, “SANTA!”
Over the past decade I’ve probably asked that question to a couple hundred people. This was the first time someone credited the jolly old man in the red suit and white beard for the holiday. Although Santa is famous, what he offers is trivial compared the first advent of the King of Kings and Creator of billions of galaxies in the universe.
I did not want to make fun of the young man or put him down, so I gently answered and said, “That’s an interesting answer … Santa is in second place, but he’s a long way from the One in first place.” I paused for a millisecond and said, “Wanna try again and maybe ask one of your co-workers?”
I watched as the young man looked to his left where another teller was seated and asked her the same question. The young lady smiled and didn’t hesitate. I could see her lips quietly pronouncing the answer: “JESUS.”
He then turned back to me and offered his second response with a hint of doubt, “Jesus?”
I affirmed his answer then added, “… and I just want to encourage you to make much of Jesus this Christmas season. Merry Christmas!”
As I drove away I thought about what felt like a missed opportunity. “Perhaps,” I thought, “I should have asked him to ‘find out why Jesus came.’”
Reflections on the first coming of Santa and Jesus
Over the past week, I’ve been reflecting on my encounter with the teller and his answer. Two thoughts come to mind.
First, the tradition of Santa’s coming gets a lot of “press” every Christmas. Parents bring their kids to perch on his lap and whisper what their greedy little hearts want him to bring them for Christmas. (Yes our grandchildren are selfish too)
My focus here is not to tackle the issues around the first coming of Santa, but I will make a couple of observations:
Whose promises really deliver? Santa’s? Or Jesus’?
Who has the authority to speak into the lives of our children and grandchildren when they go through a crisis? ANSWER: No comparison.
Whose life is a model of how we are to live? Santa is grossly overweight and only comes to our houses once a year! Santa’s “promises” are suspect. Jesus lived the perfect life, defeated death and offers to come and LIVE in us every day. Jesus’ promises are sure.
Whose teachings have been used to transform lives, families and nations? Santa didn’t even write the famous poem, “The Night Before Christmas.” The book that Jesus authored, the Bible, is the best seller of all human history.
And who has defeated death? Risen from the grave? And offers us eternal life? Jesus rose from the grave, He is alive right now. And He’s promised to come back.
This has been a tough year on all of us and we all need the Savior who has the authority to calm our fears and forgive our sins.
My second thought is also worthy of consideration … think with me for a moment.
Christmas is about gift giving. Have you ever wondered why we practice this tradition of giving gifts?
The familiar passage in the Gospel of John spells out the greatest gift ever given in the history of all creation or ever will be given in the future of all creation:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Christmas, for those who have never placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, should first be focused on receiving the greatest gift ever given, God's Son. By faith we are to believe and surrender to Jesus and receive His gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
Read John 3:16 again. God does not want you or your family to “perish.”
For those who have trusted Christ, Christmas should celebrate Jesus. He came to pay the price for our sins and redeem us from hell. He offers us a relationship with God here and now (John 17:3). And Jesus gives us the promise of being with Him in heaven for eternity (John 14:1-3).
Have you believed in Him? Truly trusted Jesus as your Savior, the One who died for your sins so you will not perish?
Have you surrendered your life to Him? Why not do place your faith in Him right now?
Are you following Him?
And are you proclaiming Jesus’ love and forgiveness to others?
People need to know
I’m reminded of two questions that were asked of me as a young man:
#1: “What’s the greatest thing that has ever happened to you?” I answered, “Receiving Christ and God’s forgiveness of my sins and His promise of eternal life.”
#2: “Then what’s the greatest thing you can do for others?” Answer: “Introduce Christ, and His claims about Himself, to others.”
We should all be sharing our faith in Jesus 365 days a year, but there are two major holidays that demand a heightened burden for making Christ known: Christmas and Easter. Our children, grandchildren, extended family members, neighbors, and those whom God puts in our paths ... all need to know of God’s love and forgiveness that is found in Jesus Christ.
It’s fairly easy to use the Christmas holidays to talk to people about the One who made Christmas famous.
People have a soul and need to know where they will spend eternity.
I’m going back to the bank today to share a little of how I came to faith in Christ and take a gift to that teller— a copy of the book, More than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell. It’s my hope that the young man will be introduced to Jesus.
Don’t miss the opportunity Christmas gives you to share Christ with your family and the people around you … and give them an opportunity to place their faith in Jesus for forgiveness of their sins.
Merry Christmas! And don’t forget to celebrate The One who made Christmas famous,
My Heart, Ever His: Prayers for Women (BRAND NEW from Barbara Rainey)
As we search for meaning in our world of shallow online relationships and glamorized selfies, many are returning to traditional and liturgical churches. The repeated words, benedictions, and historic hymns connect us to saints who have gone before, giving us a sense of belonging, richness, and transcendence. Written prayers, once cast off as archaic, are now welcomed as guides to tune our hearts to the heart of God. In My Heart, Ever His Barbara Rainey shares 40 prayers for women. Readers can read and meditate on one prayer throughout the week or read a prayer a day for 40 days as a way to express the longing of our hearts to our Father who loves us even as he sees who we truly are. Like the psalms of David, these prayers are honest, sometimes raw. Barbara uses these transparent expressions of common female experiences to encourage us to surrender to Christ and help us see God as he is, not as we assume him to be. My Heart, Ever His provides a stepping-stone to help you become more transparent with God and discover his welcoming embrace. - Every purchase helps support the ministry of Ever Thine Home.
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