Sunday, December 24, 2017

12.24.17 // Expecting the Messiah: The "Christmas Christian"

Proverbs 3:5-8
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”

Christmas Christian = someone who attends church only on Christmas Day (and possibly Easter)

Sunday Christian = someone who attends church on Sunday, but the message of Christ doesn't impact their lives the rest of the week

Everyday Christian = someone whose relationship with Christ is true, vibrant, and growing; it is evident daily, not just on Sundays

Many Christmas services around the country have record attendance on Christmas Sunday. Why? Because there are many “Christmas Christians,” the people who only attend church on Christmas Sunday. Maybe because it’s a tradition. Maybe because its in their upbringing. Maybe because they sense something holy about the holiday. Maybe because they are seeking. But no doubt, there are many people who only darken the doors of a church building a few times a year, namely Christmas and Easter. Maybe you know a “Christmas Christian.” Maybe you are a “Christmas Christian.”

Proverbs 3:5-8 is a challenge for all of us. Today is Christmas Eve, and this is not really a Christmas blog. These verses kept coming to my mind when I pondered the people who don’t regularly attend church, but might attend on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. These verses apply to them, but they also certainly apply to the Christian who has perfect attendance at Sunday services. These commands and exhortations in these verses are timeless and relevant.

-    Trust in the Lord (that means not in yourself) with all of your heart.
-    Lean not on your own (finite, limited, short-sighted) understanding.
-    In all (not some) your ways acknowledge Him.
-    He (not you) will direct your path.

Basically, the message of verses 5-6 is that we should trust in God, not in ourselves. Many times, we may be struggling through life, trying to make the right choices, trying to make ends meet, trying to make people happy, and all the while, we have tried and tried and struggled and struggled because we are living in our own strength. We are calling the shots. We are using our limited wisdom to make life-altering decisions. Why? Because we like to be in control. We don’t fully submit to the Lord as we should. We still desire our agenda over the Lord’s. And so we struggle. Our lives would be much more at peace if we submitted to and rested in His will. Many times, Proverbs 3:5-6 are quoted without verses 7-8. Let’s look at the message of verses 7-8.

-    Don’t be wise in your own eyes; rather, look to the Lord’s wisdom.
-    Trusting in the Lord will bring healing and refreshment.

Who doesn’t want to be healed and refreshed?? These verses tell us exactly what will bring healing and refreshment…trusting in the Lord instead of in ourselves. Pretty straightforward! It’s not a mystery, and yet it’s really hard to do! Even though our lives are in shambles when we are (or when we think we are) in control, we still reach for that control anyways.

The reason these verses are brought to my mind when I consider the “Christmas Christian” is because I believe the Lord has so much more for us! The Lord desires for you to experience Him deeply every day of the year, not just merely receive a glimpse of His precious, life-giving, refreshing, and healing truths one Sunday out of the year! The devil will try to convince you that that’s enough, that the one Sunday a year can be checked off of your list as your good deed for Christmas. But that’s simply not true! The Lord wants so much more for you. He wants you to thrive in your walk with Him and with the fellowship of other believers. He wants you to go deeper with Him, and that can’t happen if you only pursue Him once a year. He wants you to go deeper with Him, and that won’t happen if you only check in with Him on Sundays. I am not writing this at all to condemn, but rather to encourage. I have been guilty many times of being a “Sunday Christian”, without being an “every-other-day-of-the-week Christian.” It's easy to get into a routine of doing what you think is right without having the right heart behind it. (And also, I know that attending church doesn't make you a Christian. There are many people who attend regularly who are still not "daily Christians.") I hope you see the truths in these verses as encouraging and refreshing, whether you are new in your walk with Christ, 10 or 20 years into your relationship, still seeking, or are far from Him. And if you’re someone who is a committed, born-again, Christ-follower, I pray that these verse also remind you of why its so awful to cling to your own control and why it’s so wonderful to relinquish control and trust the Lord. It is freeing, healing, and refreshing!

This Christmas Eve, I pray that you will celebrate the freedom and peace that you have because you can trust that the loving, good, sovereign God has redeemed you and is in control of your life. He can do a much better job than you, by the way! I pray that you reread Proverbs 3:5-6 and dwell on its truths. I pray that as you attend a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service that you will be changed by Christ and challenged to take the next step in your walk with Him, whatever that may be. I pray that as we close out the Christmas season and enter the New Year, you will be encouraged to pursue God more passionately than you ever have before. I pray that you will plead with Him to help you give up all desire for control, and that you will live fully in His freedom to do His will, not your own.

Merry Christmas!

Always, Jacquelyn

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