Okay, I was admonished today. I’ve been focusing too much on my own hunger this season. Now it’s time to look outward.
The prod came from something I wrote last year about this time in response to a sermon on Matthew 3, the story of John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness, preparing people for the arrival of Jesus. Pastor Don talked about the preparation that takes place in all of our lives, preparation for finally “getting it” and understanding the true message of Christmas. “I finally got it,” he said, “when I realized Christmas wasn’t all about me.”
Ouch. I heard it then, I hear it again this year. Yes, at Christmas we celebrate our rescue, our redemption. But Christmas is also about those who still need to be rescued. Christmas is the good news that freedom is possible. Hope for those enslaved, help for those who feel helpless, God for those who have been separated from Him.
John the Baptist was talking to the Pharisees about their false religion. Don’t be too smug, don’t feel too secure, he said. Unless your lives show true repentance, God will chop you down and throw you into the fire. You are not safe just because you are descendants of Abraham.
Then these words of John jumped off the page and grabbed my heart: God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. (v. 9)
John the Baptist may have been pointing to river stones as he said this, but to me, in 2011, the Spirit says … God can create children of faith from hearts of stone.
Is there a person you care about who has no reason to celebrate a real Christmas because he/she has not been rescued, does not see, has had no room for Christ? Have you sometimes despaired of that heart of stone ever being redeemed? Are you tempted to think it’s improbable or, even worse, impossible?
Yet, here’s the statement: God can create children of Abraham from these very stones.
It’s the redemption story. It’s what Christmas is all about — God, bringing life where there is no life, bringing light where there is darkness.
Hear the message of Christmas hope … Christ was born for hearts of stone.