The Hustle and Bustle of Christmas is Intentional

(Pastor Tim White, Reaching Upward radio transcript, Dec. 22, 2013)


Is it no wonder that for many people,

Christmas is too busy? Is it no wonder that the celebration of the Messiah’s birth becomes lost in 

the rush and hurry of the world? If Jesus’ mission to come to the earth involved defeating a spiritual enemy who is stronger than us, doesn’t it make sense that this spiritual enemy, Satan, would encourage such business that the reason for the season is easily lost?

I believe we can see it was that way from the beginning. Here was a young couple, planning for a wedding. The groom, Joseph, was probably working hard to establish his business to support a family. Mary, the bride, was probably organizing the household needs to start a new family.

It was probably one of the most exciting, and busy, times of their lives.

Then the Angel delivered the messages. “Mary, you are going to become pregnant before the wedding, but the child you will carry is from God.”

I’m sure Mary could have voiced some concern, “Mr. Angel, your timing for this announcement is rotten. I have too much to do. Can’t this wait a few months?”

I’m sure Joseph could have voice the same complaints. But as they realized the work of God happening in their lives, they adjusted and accepted His plan.

And when things really got busy, another schedule changer hit.

You can imagine Joseph approaching Mary, who was days away from delivery, with the news. “Mary, I know this is not a good time, but we need to travel 80 miles to complete the Census ordered by Caesar.”

Her response could have been, “Joseph, have you lost your mind? Not only am I trying to prepare for a wedding. I am trying to prepare for a child. And I am more than 8-1/2 months pregnant. What are you going to do? Borrow the neighbor’s RV?”

I remind you, they had no RVs in those days. Mary would have to walk or ride on some ancient form of transportation. She could ride on a horse or donkey, or a wagon (if available).

Despite this being the most inconvenient and busy time of Mary and Joseph’s life, it was the perfect time for the Messiah to come. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman…” Galatians 4:4. Translated into Texan, that verse says that, when things were just right, God sent His Son to be born.

Why? Why in such a busy season?

It seems with all the government activity, travelling, tax collecting, motel room letting, and complaining, the birth of the Hope of mankind was easily lost. His birth was shoved away from the busy Hostel to the isolation of a feeding trough in the middle of a sheep ranch.

When it came time for Jesus to purchase our salvation (What Jesus had called “my time”), the largest assembly in Jerusalem had gathered. They had come for the Passover celebration, increasing the population of Jerusalem from 200,000 to an estimated 4 million. With that kind of increase, the bustle of restaurants, sleeping arrangements, stables for the animals, and the carnival-like atmosphere, the temptation would be for the businessmen in Jerusalem to make the most of Black Friday. The crucifixion of three criminals could be lost.

Again, it appears that God chose a time when everyone’s attention was being torn in every direction to do His greatest work. That teaches me so much.

God was not satisfied with the times when Jesus was the most popular. He was not seeking a moment when Jesus’ only detractors were the religiously jealous and zealous.

In other words, Jesus was not seeking those who would focus on Him when it was easy to do so, but those who sought to honor Him at the worst possible time, when remembering Christ is the most difficult, and, as far as that goes, the most costly. He is not building His kingdom with those who sing “Hosanna. Glory to God in the Highest” on one day, and scream “Crucify Him” the next.

He is doing two things this busy Christmas holiday. One, He is calling out those who stand by Him when the activities of this world are trying to drown Him out. Are you one of those, who will face every distraction of life while keeping Jesus Christ as the filter in which you see these activities? Are you one of those who this Christmas will pause often to simply say “Happy Birthday, Jesus, and thank you for your matchless gift”? He is calling for the “Johns”, who would even attend the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, and remain faithful.

Second, He is trying to get the rest of us to that point. God, in His providential care, is nurturing Jesus’ followers for more strength.

Maybe last year we failed to pause often and truly celebrate the coming of the Savior of the World. Maybe in years past, we got caught up in culture to the point of minimizing the Reason for the season. But, through God’s nurturing and gentle discipline, this year we will do better.

You see, He is also calling the “Peters”, who may have ran and hid, folded to popular opinion, and even drifted towards the fishing way of life from which he was call us. This calling truly represents the grace of God, and it was in grace that Jesus came to mankind.

Do you sense the grace-call of God today to forgive you of your failures while calling you to live in victory? That is what the Christmas season is all about.


Bridging the Barriers to Love

I remember preparing for a funeral for someone’s mother. The family told me stories of what a rich example of Christianity this lady was in the lives of her children and grandchildren. She had a special way of uniquely treating and spending time with each child, making each one feel special. This was truly a great family member.

However, when I asked the family member how this one interacted with her neighbors, one of the children flatly said, “Oh, she didn’t like anyone else. Just family.”

It has occurred to me that the marks that Christ makes in our lives are not measured by how we love our family and friends, but how we love across the boundaries of love. How do we love the difficult to love?

Jesus taught this clearly. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

Truly, the difference that Jesus makes cannot be fully imitated over an extended period. The imitator, under stress, will reveal his true heart. The problem is that when we, the ambassadors for divine love, fail to endure over extended periods, testing trials, unfair treatment, disrespectful attacks and extreme stress, we excuse any imitators. What we show in love and withholding love can too easily be imitated by a pretender.

Our very forgiveness and eternal survival is dependent upon this supernatural love. “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8)

The next challenge to your love will be your next test. Does Christ really make a difference in your life? Do we really have the ability to surrender in dependency to Him, even in our hardest test for Him show Himself mighty through us in love? Or is it just rhetoric? Have we watered down love to be the same as a pagan’s ability to love his dear ones? Do we simply believe that our ability to love our dear ones is just deeper because of Christ, and that is enough? Or through Christ, can we love the unlovable, reach the unreachable, touch the untouchable, heal the unhealable, and bridge the unwhat is lovetraversable, even when it is our own barriers to love?