Friday, December 17, 2010

On Christmas Dispositions

by Jeremy Clarke, Legacy Baptist Church, NW Arkansas

I think no other time of year reveals the deep ruin of this world as vividly as Christmas.  This is a season, it seems, that brings an uncanny insurgence of feigned virtue; a season saturated with the deceitful schemes of ingenious marketing tactics and ploys intended to generate some measure of public sentiment so as to invoke the great machine of covetous consumerism.  I abhor the world’s even mild, transient, opportunistic attempts at identification with the virtues and symbols of our faith.  The whole Christmas “campaign” just accents the blackness and ignorance of a world that is perishing and passing away….and I have to be especially diligent not to become embittered by it all.

In that context, I was struck (as sovereignty would have it) with a simple question from an old Puritan work that I happened to be reading this morning.  The question posed was this: “Can you, if truly a Christian, contemplate the costly advent and agonies of the Son of God on your behalf, and yet be indifferent to the prosperity of the cause for which He came and died? Can you behold the Father of eternity resigning the Son of His love in compassion to you, and yet be careless about the conversion of a perishing soul?”

For me the question was internalized this way: “While it is true that the world’s “Christmas” is a mockery of our Lord Jesus Christ, why is my governing disposition one of embitterment, rather than of pity and compassion for those who will traverse December 25th…and all of their life…completely ignorant and darkened to the realities of the incarnate Christ, and to the free offer of salvation?” Likewise, if you profess to be a Christian, then you must know, as do I, that you are surrounded by souls that will exist forever.  What’s more, God has granted you to know the worth of a soul; to know the grim danger of unbelief and unfathomable glories of heaven, having illumined you and having called you through His gospel.  And will you, or I, with cold embitterment this Christmas, behold a dead world while simultaneously withholding the word of life?

If the Christian is to radiate Christ in December….and in whatever brief span of life awaits beyond…. consider this:
He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death.” (James 5:20)
It is, of course, God who has sovereignly chosen and who sovereignly does the saving, but His people are to be compassionate mouthpieces and instruments for His gospel.  Can a man truly believe the gospel and yet be inactive in its proclamation?  Not hardly.

What then? Christ Himself taught:
“The night cometh in which no man can work.” (John 9:4)
That is to say that there is coming a time when there will be no further opportunity to labor for the glory of God in the salvation of men.  What motivation then is ours to aspire to crowd the time we have with gospel labors!  If pity will move us at all, if compassion will mobilize us at all, it must move us here…and now, beloved.

Look to the Christ of the real Christmas who became for your welfare a Man of sorrows and suffering.  Think of that moment when you step into eternity and into His presence….and of those you will meet again who were snatched from an eternal night by the Spirit-empowered gospel uttered by the instrument of your lips.  Is there a carol known that can express the joy of being joined with them in the eternal songs of heaven sung to the glory of Christ? If there be such a one, may it be our song this Christmas.

photo credit: the idealist via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

For the Christian: "I Will Never Leave You Nor Forsake You"

Legacy Baptist Church, Northwest Arkansas