Ever since September 11th you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who questions whether or not evil exists. We have all seen its ugly face. We’ve calculated the exorbitant fees it demands from the innocent, and too many of us have had to bury its victims. But in spite of looking down the throat of Darkness, most people would still prefer to go through life without giving any regard to the One who overcame evil and pierced the heart of darkness.
Even with Jesus’ PR department-the church-and all of us ambassadors who claim Him as our Lord, the world would still rather try to make it on its own without Him. Part of the reason is obvious, even if it lacks long-term logic. Man has a propensity to want to rule his own life and determine his own fate. He’d rather delude himself with the false assumption that he is capable of making it through time on his own. And when his time is finally up, he’s confident he will be ushered into the hereafter on his numerous merits.
That’s why most people would prefer that God mind His own business, keep His distance, and leave them alone. They’d rather live each day without regard for the One who made that day. They’d rather face the challenges of the present without any help from the only One who can guarantee the future.
Vast numbers of the rank-and-file kick off each year with a celebration to their own self-confidence. They stay up too late, drink too much, and make a handful of empty promises to themselves that they’ll break within a few days, if not mere hours. They set new goals, review their strategies, and execute their plans. And then they slip through the months of the calendar doing their best to do their best.
Some go out of their way to ignore God. They decline our invitations to visit our churches. They offer up an uncomfortable laugh when we mention God in our conversations. They might even insult us should we invoke Jesus’ actual name. Some take their antagonism against God to formal levels and try to silence the voices of Christians at work or try to eliminate any mention of God within the public discourse. They show Him the exit just about any time He makes an appearance in our public school system.
And then along comes Christmas.
With all of the efforts to live life without Him, the average self-sufficient citizen of our country is forced to be surrounded by His presence everywhere he or she goes. Come the end of the year, Jesus grabs the limelight. And whenever He wants to, He steals the show. From our most crowded city to our most obscure village, Jesus makes His presence known. He sets up shop in the front yards of people’s houses and hangs the symbols of His mercy from the arms of our street lights. He draws strangers to His churches, He draws cynics to His nativity scenes, and He draws sinners to His heart.
Almost every store in the country decorates for His birthday. Obviously, Jesus is good for business. And it’s fair to assume that many of the merchants who throw out the red carpet for Him have ulterior motives. But there is absolutely no escaping the fact that when December roles around, the world is going to once again be reminded of how much God loves them…whether they want to be reminded or not.
Many innocuously refer to what comes over everyone during December as the “Spirit of Christmas.” The last act of every year consistently gets billed as the “season of giving.” But whether they want to admit it or not, every kind gesture that people offer, every gift they give, and every smile they return points to Jesus.
Christmas offers everyone a chance to rehearse what every person in the world will someday do. The scripture says “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). Regardless of who you are or what you believe, Christmas has a way of causing everyone to take a peek back over their shoulders towards Bethlehem.
Of all the things that happen this time of the year, nothing seems to illustrate the overriding presence of Jesus better than the music that is played in His honor. It’s everywhere. True, it gets overdone on some stations. And the songs that embody the orthodox message of Jesus’ birth often have to share airtime with many seasonal songs that are silly, trite, or outright inane. But I’m pretty sure it doesn’t bother God since He has always had to compete with the foolishness of man. Regardless of how hard some may try, come this time of the year the airwaves, background tapes, and CD players of our nation surrender to the gospel according to Christmas.
Music carries more influence than any other component of the Christmas season. That’s because music not only wraps its arms around a person’s mind, but the heart and soul as well. It kneads a person’s stubbornness, tenderizes resolve and in the process slips a message into the inner being that is inescapable.
What is probably most amazing about the music of Christmas are the venues in which it is invited. Places that otherwise would want nothing to do with the redemption story of God simply turn up the volume when Christmas comes around. A person can be shopping at the mall, stopping by Home Depot to grab some supplies, or pulling up a chair in the corner of Starbucks to sip some hot eggnog and hear someone singing “Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the new born King.” A spiritual cynic might be pumping gas, making a bank deposit, or browsing the latest New Age offerings at Barnes and Noble and hear “Be near me Lord Jesus I ask thee to stay, close by me forever and love me I pray.”
We serve a dynamic Savior. He had the first word, He’ll have the last, and He will make His presence known whenever and wherever He chooses. No one can silence Him when He wants to share His message of hope. Whether it is intermingled with the sounds of a casino or slips in through the morphine-induced stupor of some lonely old man in the cancer ward at the VA Hospital, come Christmas, people in bad need of real hope are likely to hear “Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King.”
©Copyright 2012 Tim Kimmel