“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” Matthew 1:23
December has begun and it is officially Christmas time! That means lights, decorations, crowds, bustle, fireplaces, snow, family, and more. But the heart of the Christmas season is really the message of hope for a lost world. God himself, here, with us. What an awesome truth, that our God and king left his heavenly throne to walk among humanity, to live and to die for us. At his birth, the angels declared “on earth peace, good will to men” (Luke 2:14). Jesus did not live during a peaceful time. His country was occupied by Roman soldiers, and the nation was heavy with civil unrest. In fact, many people thought that Jesus was the one who would rise as a great military leader and lead the people in a victorious battle against the Romans.
But that is not why Jesus came. In a world at war against God, Jesus came to reconcile God and man. Jesus, the prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6) made peace through the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:20). Humbly, he bore the punishment of our sins, to restore us to the Father. Jesus, our peace and our living hope, (Ephesians 2:14, 1 Peter 1:3) taught his disciples that the greatest commandment is to love God with your whole heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. When asked “who is my neighbor,” Jesus tells the story of the good Samaritan.
One day, a man leaves home for a long journey. On his way, he is attacked, beaten, robbed, and left for dead. While a Priest and a Levite both pass by and ignore the man, a Samaritan, who is despised by the Jews, stops and shows compassion. He demonstrates love in a self-sacrificing way. Interrupting his journey and his schedule, the Samaritan not only dresses the stranger’s wounds, but offers up his own seat. Kindly, he lays the hurt and ill man on his donkey, while he walks alongside. On top of that, he pays for the stranger’s food, care, and logging at a local inn. Generously and willingly, he surrenders his time and resources in an act of selfless compassion. As followers of Jesus, Christians are called to love others in this same way all the time.
What better time than Christmas, when society and culture allows Jesus’s birth a small place in the limelight, to purposefully live out God’s call to love others self-sacrificially? Let’s embrace our identity as salt and light in a broken world. We are ambassadors with a precious message for every person. Especially considering all the crazy, life-changing events of this past year, the gospel message of God’s peace, love and hope needs to be shared. Whether you love talking to people, or prefer to serve with your hands, everyone can take advantage of the Christmas opportunity.
Ways to show God’s love with actions:
- Bake homemade treats for your neighbors
- Invite a family over for dinner in your home
- Clean out your house and donate toys and clothes to a shelter
- Volunteer in your community – ex. a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, community center, etc
- Sing Christmas carols in nursing homes or in your neighborhood
Ways to spread God’s love with words:
- Invite people to your church for Christmas Eve or Christmas service
- Reach out to a friend and share a video link with a clear gospel message
- Memorize your favorite Christmas-themed Bible verse and be ready to share it
- Use the context of Christmas to start a conversation about what Jesus has done for you
- Ask people if they have heard the good news about Christmas? If not, tell them!
People need to hear the gospel.
When people hear “The Great Commission,” some might be tempted to only think about Jesus’ command to go and make disciples. But that is not all that Jesus tells his disciples that day in Matthew 28. Surrounding that command, he also proclaims promises. He does not leave us without the tools to accomplish his mission. Declaring himself as king, Jesus reminds us that he has all authority in heaven and earth. He is infinitely more powerful than anything opposition we might face. In addition, he promises that he will always be with us, to the end of the age.
God is with us. His presence is key to the Christmas message. He is the one who brings peace with God, and he is the one who provides courage to carry his message to others. So, be ready, be intentional, and “[d]o not be afraid… for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 1:8, Isaiah 41:10).
Written by National Bible Bee Alumna: Tabby Boulware