I want to share a brief reflection on Christmas and Christians. You see, in my work with college athletes I often sit across the table from people who by name and label call themselves Christians. After all, we live in nation founded on Christianity and we experience freedom of religion. There is a tradition of Christianity in which many people are raised in families that embrace the traditions. The majority culture celebrates Christmas and Easter.
And then I read about the Iraqi people who also call themselves Christians and they are being hunted and executed for their belief in Jesus as the One true God. I read a few weeks back about 4 young boys under the age of 15 who were captured by isis. The terrorists insisted that the children say the words that they will follow Mohammed. All 4 of them said “no, we love Yesua, we have always loved Yesua, we have always followed Yesua, Yesua has always been with us. No we can’t say the words”. And with that the terror group beheaded them.
So how can it be that these students I talk with who consider themselves to be Christians and these Iraqi people who also wear the name Christian live out this label in polar opposite ways? How can it be that one is unable to explain what Jesus’ life and death and resurrection means and yet says they are Christians while the other person also holds the label of Christian and is willing to die for those beliefs? It seems that one would die for a relationship but not simply facts or information. One may die for a belief that goes behind just intellectual knowledge and into a relationship.
This is a reality that drives my passion and my calling to work with college athletes. I believe that there is one truth and one God and in finding Him we find our purpose, our joy, our peace and the longings of our heart find satisfaction. I have found that those who think they understand what Christianity is and wear the label are in a dangerous place because they don’t realize there is more to be discovered, that Jesus offers more then just empty traditions. That indeed having an intimate personal relationship with the God who created you brings you to a place in which dieing for your beliefs is seen as worth it because living for it has given you true hope and a love that you know death can not separate you from!
Jesus is more than a baby in a manager. Easter is more then just an act of injustice on an innocent man. Christianity is more then what majority culture labels themselves here in American. And the search for Truth, the effort to discover this is the most worth while effort you could work at.
Tonight I want to leave you with a few words Jesus spoke while he walked the earth.
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. “ matt 11:28
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble but take heart. I have overcome the world” John 16:33
“I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” John 14:6
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned he has crossed over from death to life” John 5:24
“This is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the 3rd day and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations beginning in Jerusalem.” Luke 24:46
So in Jesus words we hear the invitation. The invitation to come to Him. To be made whole. To be forgiven. To be in right relationship with our creator. To know true peace that surpasses all understanding. To experience joy and the abundant life. But it is an invitation not a forced action on us. And many have chosen not to come. Some chose not to read the invitation. Others don’t even realize there is an invitation waiting for them. And there are those like the Iraqi children who have read the invitation from Jesus and stepped into a real relationship with Him that transformed every part of their lives that they died for that relationship knowing that death would not separated them from His love.
This is why Jesus left heaven to come to earth as a fully God and fully man to make His great love known to his creation. To redeem and restore what was broken by our sin.
The choice is ours to make. I encourage all of us to pursue Truth and decided for ourselves what we will do with Jesus this baby in a manger.