“A winsome Christmas message…”
Last week I mentioned that Gen 3:15 is the first announcement by God of the coming Messiah. Even though Adam and Eve may not have understood the full impact of their decision to defy their Creator when He came searching for them in the cool of the day, they did have some idea, for they recognized they were naked.
That’s what sin does. It exposes our un-holiness before a thrice Holy God. It’s what Isaiah experienced when he was shown the vision of the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted and how the train of God’s robe filled that temple. Isaiah immediately acknowledged his sin and that he was ruined and was living amongst a sinful people (Isa 6:1ff).
No doubt, in the coming weeks, months and years of Adam and Eve’s life, they must have deeply regretted their defiance of God in the Garden of Eden. Not only were they removed so that they couldn’t eat from the tree of life (3:22), they were soon to experience the full extent of their defiance when death came to their family.
In Genesis chapter four we have the dreadful account of Cain and Abel and their dispute which resulted in Abel’s death (4:8). A little later, in the same chapter it is seems that Lamech, a descendant of Cain, boasts about killing a man (v23). Thankfully, the chapter doesn’t end there for we read that Seth was born to Adam and Eve (v25). Seth was the family line from where the Saviour would one day be born. Already there, in the early chapters of Genesis we see ‘His-story’ being fulfilled, despite the consequences of sin.
Interestingly, all of the OT is an account of how God has moved individuals and nations to ensure that the birth of the promised Messiah would eventuate. As I have said before, we should read all of the OT with Christ-coloured lenses, after all it is all about Him (Lk 24:44).
Unfortunately, many people, particularly in our western societies, do not see their need of a Saviour, nor do they see their current lifestyles as being offensive before a holy God. Perhaps, even more to the point, they don’t even acknowledge God. I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised, for even God’s chosen people Israel, forgot God and what He had done for them. It didn’t take a hundred years to forget, but as little as one whole generation (Jug 2:10).
I guess the challenge for us at this time of the year when we particularly remember the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, is how to convey this life saving message to our friends and families, who may perhaps even attend worship services on Christmas Day.
I guess we could tell people that they are miserable sinners and that without Christ they are on a path to everlasting punishment. It wouldn’t necessarily be wrong or unbiblical, but I dare say it wouldn’t be all that winsome. I am not convinced that we should be opportunistic in a negative way about the gospel when we know some people will be in church who perhaps only come one day a year.
That doesn’t mean we be wishy washy with the gospel, but perhaps we could take another tack. Perhaps we could show our friends and family on Christmas day that we want to genuinely worship our Father God and praise Him for the works of His hands, not least the provision of Jesus as Saviour.
We wish to show our family and friends through singing songs of praise and quiet, reflective prayer, that we are very thankful for our forgiveness and the gift of eternal life. We could perhaps show our deep gratitude by our free-will offerings that the cost of what our first parents caused through their disobedience has been paid in full by Jesus. We could show them that because the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts, we have a peace that passes understanding, despite the turbulent world we live.
By conveying the message of Christmas in this positive way may be more winsome and won’t leave people thinking that they have been bashed over their heads on the only day they come to a worship service. JZ
Pastor John Zuidema
Since 1997 Pastor John has been ministering to Churches across Australia and New Zealand.