READY FOR CHRISTMAS - Week of December 11th
By Judy NicholsDecember 11, 2016
READY FOR CHRISTMAS
ă€€The conversation starter in December is always, "Are you ready for Christmas?" The answers vary from, "I’ve had my shopping done for a month," to "I haven’t even started yet." Some of us like to have our ducks in a row: we shop early, decorate our houses before it gets cold, send out our cards right after Thanksgiving, and have the dinner menu planned well in advance. Others not so much, but somehow, whether we’re ready or not, Christmas happens.
Perhaps a more pertinent question might be, "Are you ready for Jesus?" That question puts Christmas in a whole different light. John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the Messiah, and his message was "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2).
Repentance is a word we generally do not like to use because it reminds us of another word we don’t like: sin. But sin is a reality in our lives, a slave-driver that keeps us locked in unhealthy and dysfunctional behaviors. There are only two keys that can set us free from our imprisonment in sin, and they are repentance and forgiveness. And really, forgiveness is just the flip side of repentance. We repent of clinging to an offense and in setting the offender free, we set ourselves free, as well.
A line from "Joy to the World" says, "Let every heart prepare Him room." How can we ready ourselves for Jesus? Perhaps the things we do to get ready for Christmas have spiritual counterparts. Shopping is doing business. The first order of business in being ready for Jesus is repentance – acknowledging and turning away from our sin, and receiving all that Christ gained for us through His sacrifice.
Decorating our houses might be compared to the things the New Testament tells us to "put on." Ephesians 4:24 tells us to, "Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." And in Colossians we read, "Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience . . . and put on love which is the perfect bond of unity" (Col. 3:12, 14).
Sending out our wishes for "peace on earth, goodwill toward men" in everyday life translates to, "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person" (Col. 4:6), and "speaking the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15). And serving up a delicious Christmas dinner once a year is far less important than demonstrating the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) on a daily basis and having the rivers of living water flow from our innermost being (John 7:38).
Jesus came once, long ago and promised that He would come again. Whether we are ready or not, He will come. Are you ready for Christmas? But more importantly, are you ready for Jesus?
© J.H.Nichols 2012