Keep the Merry?

"For our sake he (God) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" 2 Corinthians 5:21(ESV).

For the last few years, American atheists have been promoting a "Christmas" message, "Keep the Merry, Dump the Myth." This jarring promotion shows a picture of a laughing Santa, next to the suffering face of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns. It is quite poignant they don't attack the Christ child, since that is what the merriment celebrates! No, they went right to the heart of the matter: Christ on the cross. You see for many people, apparently atheists included, it's easy and okay to celebrate the joy of Christmas with the Jolly Ole' Man, the Elf on the Shelf, or Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer; there's no commitment to God or call for repentance, nothing is required! (Yet, we spend a lot of money trying to have a merry Christmas!) The Atheists' promotion is revealing—they understand the implication of believing in the baby in the manger—it's beautifully stated in the hymn, Hark the Herald Angels Sing: Born to raise the sons of earth; Born to give them second birth.

Atheists understand this baby grew up and died a terrible, bloody death on the cross. There isn't anything "merry" about that picture! You see, to truly celebrate the Savior's birth, we must be willing to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him (Luke 9:23). Atheists of course are not willing to do this. But, are we who celebrate the babe in the manger, willing to submit to the Crucified and Risen One when the trials and suffering of life come our way? Do we trust that God is in control and that nothing happens in our lives apart from the will of the Father? It is during these difficult times that we may be tempted to give up and ask, "Where are you God?" or even, "Is there a God?"

In October of 2013, my husband survived a traumatic brain injury. I can't imagine my family and I walking this path without the hope that God has a greater plan in mind. Admittedly, many days I want to give up. Yet, where would I go? To whom would I turn? Only in Christ is there eternal hope.

Some of the "fruit of our suffering" has become evident, our family is closer, and we are grateful for the extra time to love one another. I also thank God for the Body of Christ. For years now we have been on the receiving end of love being poured out to us in a myriad of ways, all to show us Jesus-with-skin-on-love! Over and over again God has faithfully provided for us, teaching us that he is near and can be trusted. 

Yes, the Christ-child is the reason for the season! His birth was for his death. His death was for our birth. In him, true Christmas joy is found!

"Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to earth to give us second birth. Help us to have merry hearts today, tomorrow, and in the coming New Year. Amen."

Copyright 2016 Sarah Keith

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