“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hanukkah Thoughts

On Sunday I spoke on the Light coming into the world, in reference to not only Christmas, but also Hanukkah... One of the things that I mentioned was the recent boycott drives, and discussions that surrounded this Christmas season; one of the more contentious Christmas seasons in recent memory...

I wanted to post some of my thoughts, regarding this, using Messiah's Hanukkah sermon which He preached in John 10. I will provide the scripture to set the stage for my comments:

John 10:22 - 30 -- At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one."

I feel that His message to the people is apropos today. We spend a lot of energy on boycotting and finding fault with the things that the world is doing, and I worry that we spend more time and energy on that than we do on proclaiming the gospel.

For example: We all want to boycott Target and Wal*Mart (or whomever it is now) because they don't have 'Christmas' listed in their catalogue. My questions is this: WHY are we surprised? Did we forget Messiah's message above? We can force (economically) a retailer to do many things, however forcing them to 'believe' or recognize Christ is not one of them. Messiah goes on to state that He did miracles in front of them and they do not believe, so do we feel that an economic boycott is the answer to return our country to a Christian-centered ethic?

Truth be told, as Messiah stated in John 10 -- no amount of pressure, or proof will bring this country into a position of recognizing Christ, only those who are called and hear His voice, who are amongst His flock will EVER recognize Him as CHRIST!

Why is it that we are so concerned that Target list Christmas items in their catalogue? Are we looking to the world for legitimacy? The world will not provide that; it is almost as if we smugly can say, "Well, we showed Target; they now have Christmas stuff on their website", and that somehow legitimizes Christianity!

Folks, the world does not provide legitimacy to the gospel, that is thinking like the world. What makes the gospel legitimate is God, NOT America, Target, or J.C. Penney's, or anyone else! We do not NEED Target, Wal*Mart, my church, or Willow Creek to ACKNOWLEDGE Christ! Here is the acknowledgement:

Matthew 3:13 - 17 -- Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

Isaiah 42:1 -- Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.

Matthew 17:1 - 5 -- And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah." He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."

Let us not expend all of our energies on trying to obtain recognition from the world, let us spend more time in ensuring that the gospel we preach is THE GOSPEL, and not some man-centered news that seeks to affirm us in our sins. I am MUCH more concerned with what I see as a lackadaisical approach to God's Word from within our pulpits, than I am with some retailer recognizing a holiday that is not even Scripturally required.

Here is something to think about:

1st Corinthians 5:9 - 13 -- I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people -- not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you."

Let's stop worrying about Target and start getting serious about purging the junk from our midst!


Charles North said...

I bet this post will preach man! What a powerful sermon it would make. Thanks.

Ray said...

Hey, feel free to use any and/or all for your enjoyment... :-)

Paulos said...

Good thoughts! We surely do agree. Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your kind comments.

Have a wonderful New Year!

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Great thoughts.

Ray said...

paulos -- thanks for stopping by. You can bet that I will be visiting your blog again...


Ray said...

Matthew -- As always, great to have you stop by....