Tag Archives: Gospel

with abandon

As I sit here in the stillness of the morning I find myself transported once again. I can’t seem to get away from the Bethlehem hills this Advent season…

The night is still and shrouded in darkness while the smell of sheep surrounds you. It’s been a long day and you know the night has potential to be even longer. You and your fellow shepherds get to exchange watch throughout the night to protect your charge against potential threats. So you strain against the darkness not knowing what is out there, but being completely on your guard. Suddenly the darkness is broken by a violently bright and unfathomable light.Everyone is on their feet and yet cowering as well, not knowing what this new danger may be. Out of the light you make out a figure that is both lovely and terrifying and you suddenly hear a voice, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:10-12

Then it is as if the remaining darkness explodes into thousands of points of light as the messenger is joined by scores of other heavenly beings who burst forth in song, ““Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” – Luke 2:14 It seems as if time is standing still and then all of a sudden it’s over. You and your comrades are left speechless in the cool night air wandering what just happened. Then someone speaks up, “Could it be true? If so, what are we waiting for.” Quickly you make your way into town completely forgetting about your responsibility in the hills and you find everything just as the messenger had said. Here he is…a newborn baby…wrapped in cloths just like your family did with you. The promised Messiah…David’s own descendant and you are some of the first to lay eyes on him. The joy and energy bubbling up inside of you is uncontrollable. As you and your fellow shepherds prepare to leave you know it is going to be a noisy exodus, but you don’t care. Everyone you bump into is going to hear about this story. Friends, strangers, pharisees, tax collectors, drunkards…even the sheep are going to hear all about the miraculous event that you have just been included in. With abandon you become the first witnesses to the redemption of God for all mankind.

I wonder where you find yourself today, 2,000 years later? Do you need to experience the in-breaking of Heaven again? Do you need to be reminded that there is nothing to fear? Do you find yourself caught up in praising and glorifying God as witnesses to God’s redemption brought about through the birth of Jesus? Or do you find yourself fearful of what others might think or whether or not this story could even make a difference in the world around you. Take heart! The angelic announcement still rings true today and we are now ambassadors of that same gospel announcement, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” May we find ourselves proclaiming this same message with abandon for the sake of the world that God has not abandoned.

 

 

Advertisements

can I get a witness

How many of you love watching the news? I for one, am not one of them. I actually prefer to read my news in digital format these days because it seems as if the news is always just bad. Granted, reading it isn’t much better, but at least then I don’t think it has quite the same shock value. Every once in a while however, I find myself watching one of the early morning news programs. And it seems that every time one of these comes on one of the featured stories involves some sort of court room drama. There is some high profile case that is being decided/battled out in our courts and they just can’t wait to tell me all about it. And it’s not just the news stations that are court room obsessed. Have you turned on daytime TV lately? I think nowadays that when you are promoted to the bench it comes with a television contract.

Our obsession with the courtroom is weird. I can’t quite put my finger on it. But I do think it may have something to do with all of our uncertainty in the world today. With all of the upheaval and chaos, here is a place where at the end of the day a verdict is handed down and someone is proved right and someone is proved wrong. The scary part of this for me is that this culture sometimes enters into the life of the church. The church finds itself also caught up in a culture of uncertainty and subsequently battle lines are being drawn over every issue and at the end of the day someone has to be proved right and someone has to be proved wrong. But I am not sure this is the script we are called to. I once saw a church sign, so who knows where this originated, that read, “Christians aren’t called to be judges or lawyers, but to be witnesses.” And I love that, as corny as it may be. It reminds me of that powerful verse in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

So let’s play out the courtroom analogy for a bit. Christians aren’t called to be judges. There is one judge and we all must face Him eventually…so that responsibility is off our shoulders. Christians aren’t called to be lawyers. We don’t have to extricate the truth for those around us because the truth is completely embodied in one person, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). We are called to be witnesses. And what do witnesses do? They share their experience, their story. You see, the gospel that brings freedom for captives, sight for the blind, love for the loveless, hope for the outcast is not something that can be handed down like a verdict. It can’t be argued for in a court of opinion. It must be experienced by an encounter with Jesus. And how can people know who Jesus is unless we are sharing our encounter, our experience, our transformation? Three of the most powerful words in all of scripture may be all that we need to be true witness, “Come and see…”. May we today come to the realization that people cannot be brought to Jesus unless they can see the difference He has made in us and want to experience the same.


%d bloggers like this: