So Christmas is over, it’s likely the tree and decorations are down. I would suspect that many children’s toys have already lost the lure of the joy and happiness that was present when they first were opened. Maybe some of us have even cycled through the process of making and then even breaking New Year’s resolutions. Time keeps going by…
It is tempting to approach spiritual matters with a similar attitude. It may be easy to celebrate the birth of Jesus and join the fanfare of worship surrounding the day he was born. Jesus, as a baby, makes him seem so cute and a special miracle. Baby Jesus is “safe” and it is easy to just leave him in the manger.
Jesus did not stay in the manger. The Bible explains Jesus as being fully God and fully man. Luke 2:52 says that Jesus “grew in wisdom and in stature.” As a man, he learned like we learn. As God, he gave up himself to be found in appearance of a man. Jesus then began his time of ministry in his early 30s and preached about the message and mission of God. Jesus did not keep things “safe” to help give people guidance in how to be more religious, he came to fulfill Scripture and bring people back in close relationship with God. Jesus graciously declared his mission on earth was to live out the words of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah who said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
People were amazed at his words and the declaration that he had come to fulfill this passage. You would think people would be drawn to the hope of life change, freedom and healing. In his home town of Nazareth their reaction was of unbelief as they remembered him as child. Their idea of Jesus was to keep him and his message as something safe and manageable so they could explain it. They were keeping Jesus at arm’s length.
It is easy today to keep Jesus “safe” and distant. For some it may be avoiding his love and grace that he offers so freely because you may be trapped in some unhealthy ways of living and looking at life. If you are a follower of Christ it may be only accepting the things that are easy and not doing the hard work of following the life of freedom he desires for his people. It is our choice to respond to his love and invite him into all areas of our life.
If you do, you will not only experience a relationship with a God who loves you so, but you will be blessed with an eternal joy that can be present in the ups and downs of life.
Frank Alioto is the pastor of The River Covenant Church which meets Sundays at 10 a.m. at The Challenger Learning Center in Kenai. Frank also serves as a chaplain with Central Emergency Services and can be reached at 252-2828 or www.therivercovenantchurch.org.