John A. Braun
Ads for the Christmas shopping season appear early. I think I got the first one in September. If someone would suggest that we have no need for Christmas, retailers would get in line to object. Perhaps the only people who would eliminate Christmas are those opposed to the reason for Christmas—the birth of Jesus. Maybe it would be Hindus, Muslims, atheists, and others around the world who see no need for Jesus.
Most who experience Christmas would retain the lights, the tree, the family gatherings, the presents, and perhaps even the solemn quiet of “Silent Night” or the warmth of little children singing “Away in a Manger.” Many would retain those pleasures as their personal annual celebration. Yes, there’s a need for such a Christmas. Just ask almost anyone.
Dig a little deeper and ask if they have found a need for Jesus in their lives, not just a need to celebrate his birth. Perhaps they might understand the need to keep Jesus in Christmas, although they might think more about Santa, Frosty, or Rudolph. And yet Jesus would disappear for another year as fast as Rudolph.
We love to celebrate the birth of a newborn. Jesus is no exception. He’s a special child. But what about Jesus, the Savior, the full-grown man who “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3)? Do we need him? Absolutely!
Look at the news any day of the year—shootings, drunkenness, perversion, fraud, greed, and so much more. I’m guilty of walking away from the television when the news is bad—which is all to frequently—but it’s only a temporary journey. The bad news will find me, or I will be drawn back to it after my brief protest. I can’t change any of it. Do we need Jesus? Yes.
The bad news reminds me that God cared enough—loved enough—to send his Son Jesus here. Jesus did not live in a quaint, nostalgic world without trouble. Drunkenness, perversion, fraud, greed, and bloodshed—although not by automatic weapons—are as old as history. This disturbing world with all its faults is not what God wanted; it’s what we have made it. Jesus has come that we should not perish in the mire and muck but have everlasting life in his Father’s house (John 14:2).
In the daily schedules of life, we concentrate on what is close and familiar—the job, the family, the finances, the house. All those things demand our attention every day. We busy ourselves with these things and consider ourselves fortunate to avoid trouble and often stop there. Our everyday life is like a little castle with walls of ordinary concerns that keep out the bad stuff, most of the time. We conclude we don’t need Jesus in our personal castles.
Perhaps that’s because we don’t notice how things change. The children slowly grow older and move away to start their own families. We see them less because they live in their own castles now. And slowly our own lives change. Our parents first had difficulty coming to family gatherings at Christmas, then they can’t come, and finally they are gone. The pattern repeats in each generation, and we can’t change it. Do we need Jesus?
But I shouldn’t look at everyone else. My own life is not free from faults and mistakes either. No one’s is. I am not, nor is anyone I know, innocent. I deserve to be abandoned by a holy God. Everyone deserves the same verdict.
Do we need Jesus? God thought so and sent Jesus. His love and forgiveness give us hope, joy, and peace.
John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.
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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 12
Issue: December 2018
Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2018
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