23 Dec 2014

Don't come, don't come Immanuel....?

I am guessing that like me, as Christmas loomed; you started sweating (we call it praying) about who to invite so they can hear the Good News and we can rejoice that one soul has come home. It is good that we take our evangelistic task seriously. I do, and you should too.

But, I have come to realize that our ideas often don't match that of those we seek to reach.

You see, if you live in water for a while and swim around merrily and start becoming a fish; you stop thinking about the water. But the bird looking at the fish (if the bird even bothers to) cannot fully make sense of the water and the gliding and flashing movements of the fish!

When it comes to Christmas, we are excited over it for very different reasons.

The answer to this is not to reduce Christmas to turkey, buffets and reindeers in order to connect.

The answer is for us to dive deeper into why God would condescend (that's what it is and more) so as to cross a permanently uncross-able threshold, become a bundle of cells that multiply rapidly in the waters of a finite human womb. Just think about that. 

We must bring the Wonder of Christmas back in order to have wonder-full words and gleaming faces that will put all the jingles, bright lights and partying to a pale.

I invited a family to church, and attempted engaging folks on the meaning of Christmas. I gave out gifts to neighbours, wished them well and offered a listening ear. I harbor hopes of them saying "tell me more", or "we're coming to church with you"... but as it often happens for me, there is polite refusal. In fact, in some cases, I get a kind, careful rejection (which means I get to try again at Easter!).

Friends, we sing 'O Come O Come Immanuel'. But for those we reach out to, it may well be 'Don't come, don't come'!

Like Herod, the king.

Jesus was born at a time when an egotistic, maniacal fellow named Herod was king; he who loved his life, luxuries, power, and position. To secure it, he gave orders to have a whole generation of children two years and younger killed. Mass massacre of innocent children just so that his position would be secure. Paranoid and sick. Violent and evil.

We balk at this and seldom think about how fiercely people can react to God and perceived threats.

It's not this serious in my experiences so far; but this year, I actually sense some tense up. A few ladies in my exercise class have some inkling that I am a Christian; and isn't it common knowledge that Christians evangelise! I'm probably too sensitive, but this week the room emptied out really quickly when class ended before I can invite anyone! (O you felt it too at work?).

The answer to this is not to shy of it but to be prepared for this rejection, plus to ask: 

is it Christ they reject, or us?

This is a great time for confession, so here's mine. I wasn't bright enough to figure this so God had to tap-tap on my shoulder and highlight it to me! Sandwiched between the Great Commission and the Sweet Compassion are other reasons why  I want to bring the Good News...yes, gasp, it is because -
some folks need fixing
if my family members are on the same page with me, life would be better (for all of us, especially me)
it is right and meet to do it (after all I am a pastor)

These reasons are valid and understandable taken our human frailty; but they lack two important ingredient: love and Jesus. These two ingredients are like one compound really. No Jesus, no love; and the other way around too.

From all indications of how we scurry and hurry about; supply of this ingredient while generous and available is not often accessed and used!

The answer to this is to pray for the love; and talk to Jesus about the people. Both of these do not sit easily with the great Singapore values of efficiency & getting-the-best-deal though.

It's two days from Christmas and I am very concerned about seeing seismic change in the lives of a family I am hosting. It's a fantastic opportunity and our conversations after so many years have finally gotten a little more open and honest. My mind runs through a list of things to tell them, especially the father, stuff he must know to straighten his life. And as I am racing along on this amazing mission, the Spirit reins me in and reminds me to just be kind... to be kind, like Jesus would.

The Spirit leads me to take it all to Jesus and simply thank him for the insights and also entrust the opportunity, and ask for alertness to the Spirit's wind, for -

"Spirit gives birth to spirit...the wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes form or where it is going.So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." ~ John 3v6-7

More Wonder.

We are going to be left wondering who, why, when walked, waltzed or got whipped into the Kingdom!

Let's not so easily shock at negativity and objections to Christianity.
Let's check that Christ is clearly in front.
Let's flow with the Spirit's graceful moves and stand back at the power of His Wind!

Have a   WONDER-full   CHRISTmas    dear friends!

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