Christmas without Christ? || The significance of the Cross

The older I get, the more and more thankful I am for Christmas.

Not because of the gifts or family get-togethers.
Not because of the holiday cheer and the beautiful lights.
Not because of the sugary treats and fun festivities.
Not even because of the tacky Christmas sweaters I get to wear…
Though all these things are surely a bonus to the season.

No, the older I get the more I realize that Christmas truly IS so much more.
Growing up I always heard people say, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
It’s CHRISTmas. They would say.
Yes yes, of course it is.
But it’s something most people will just smile at and intellectually agree with..
but never really take the time to ponder the significance of that statement.

Especially being raised in a Christian home, I tend to take for granted what Christ has done for me. I become “religious”.. Everything becomes a ritual.. I’ve just done it for so long, it just losses meaning.
Aghh, what a tragedy.

See, I think if we truly, and fully understood the significance of Christ’s birth.. the original reason for celebrating Christmas, our lives would look radically different. This country, who basically worships Christmas, would be drastically transformed.

We forget that Christmas represents the greatest gift ever given to humanity.
God’s one and only Son, Jesus Christ.

Amongst all the festivities, gifts, food, Santa, and other holiday activities..
Christ almost seems like a benchwarmer on the sidelines instead of the MVP.
It’s like we’ve thrown a surprise birthday party for someone we forgot to invite, but celebrate anyways.

I’m guilty of this, I must admit.

But there’s simply no gift that will ever come close to what God gave us. Period.
He gave us a second chance at obtaining eternal LIFE.
It’s a gift we can never repay.. even if we wanted to.

Yes. We may have heard it all before.
But do we understand what we’ve heard? Like fully and completely?
I thought I did. I was wrong.

Now, I know the Cross is normally associated with Easter instead of Christmas.
But let us never forget that the sole purpose of Christ’s birth, was to become a sacrifice for us 33 years later. God’s gift to humanity was Him accepting the death of his perfect Son as a substitution for our sins.

This summer I read a description of what happened on the Cross that really opened my eyes. In David Platt’s book, Radical, he explained this better than anyone I’ve ever heard before.

It certainly makes me appreciate Christmas even more.
Hopefully it does the same for you.

He starts off with some intriguing questions:

“Do we really think that the false judgement of men heaped upon Christ would pay the debt for all of humankind’s sin? Do we really think that a crown of thorns and whips and nails and a wooden cross and all the other facets of the crucifixion that we glamorize are powerful enough to save us?

Picture Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. As he kneels before his Father, drops of sweat and blood fall together from his head. WHY is he in such agony and pain? The answer is not because he is afraid of crucifixion. He is not trembling because of what the Roman soldiers are about to do to him.

Since that day countless men and women in the history of Christianity have died for their faith. Some of them were not just hung on crosses; they were burned there. Many of them went to their crosses singing.

One Christian in India, while being skinned alive, looked at his persecutors and said, “I thank you for this. Tear off my old garment, for I will soon put on Christ’s garment of righteousness”.

Did these men and women in Christian history have more courage than Christ himself? Why was he trembling in that garden, weeping and full of anguish? We can rest assured that he was NOT a coward about to face Roman soldiers. Instead he was a Savior about to endure… divine wrath.

Listen to his words: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” The “cup” is not a reference to a wooden cross; it is a reference to divine judgment. It is the cup of God’s wrath.

This is what Jesus is recoiling from in the garden. All God’s holy wrath and hatred toward sin and sinners, stored up since the beginning of the world, is about to be poured out on him, and he is sweating blood at the thought of it.

What happened at the Cross was not primarily about nails being thrust into Jesus’ hands and feet but about the wrath due your sin and my sin being thrust upon his soul. In that holy moment, all the righteous wrath and justice of God due us came rushing down like a torrent on Christ himself. Some say, “God looked down and could not bear to see the suffering that the soldiers were inflicting on Jesus, so he turned away.” But this is not true. God turned away because he could not bear to see your sin and my sin on his Son.

One preacher described it as if you and I were standing a short hundred yards away from a dam of water ten thousand miles high and ten thousand miles wide. All of a sudden that dam was breached, and a torrential flood of water came crashing toward us. Right before it reached our feet, the ground in front of us opened up and swallowed it all. At the Cross, Christ drank the full cup of the wrath of God, and when he had downed the last drop, he turned the cup over and cried out, “It is finished.” (Platt, p. 34-36).

Wooow. I’ve never heard of a better description about the Cross.
Every time I read this I get cold chills and want to cry.
God.. did that. To his Son.. for ME? For YOU? For humankind?
Gosh, we are so undeserving.

But this my friends.. was the whole purpose of Christ’s birth. The true reason to celebrate Christmas. He was born, to die… to die so that we might live.
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Anyways, I hope this blog encouraged you.
Christ really does love each and every one of us THAT much.
The greatest gift has already been given, and it demands a response.
Giving our lives over to Christ as a living sacrifice is the only acceptable gift we can offer Him.

I pray you all have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Peace and blessings. Peace and blessings ya’ll.

=]

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Welcome to the 20s || Living a Meaningful Life

(Started writing this on September 9th, my birthday, but didn’t get around to finishing it until now lol)

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Welp, today’s that “special” day. The day I kiss my teen years goodbye and embrace my twenties. It’s a weird feeling, not gonna lie.

The song Britney Spears sang when I was a kid has a whole new meaning now. “I’m not a girl, but not yet a women”.. yeah, that basically sums up my life right now. It’s funny cause there are moments when I honestly feel like I’m about 23 years old; but then there are moments where I feel like I’m in high school all over again singing Fifteen by Taylor Swift.

20, such an awkward age…

But you know, I am so thankful to have made it this far. I know that sounds super cheese ball, but honestly… our days are not guaranteed. Often times I sit back and watch the way some of my friends live their lives while in college and they truly have embraced the whole “YOLO” motto. People my age live like they’re invincible, never fully thinking about some of the consequences that could stay with them for the rest of their lives. The majority of young adults have believed the quote, “To be old and wise, you must first be young and crazy”… well maybe there is some truth in that, but what ever happened to learning from other people’s mistakes? I’d like to think that I’d go through life being wise without the extra baggage of the consequences of my youthful mistakes. But of course, we all have freedom to do as we please and I’m certainly not saying that I’m perfect. Gosh, I’m so far from it. God certainly knows this. But what I am saying is that I don’t want to regret even a day of my life. I want so badly to hear those words from the Lord on that day saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Something that really struck me over the summer when I was reading in Ecclesiastes was in chapter 11, verses 9-12.

Be happy, young man, while you are young,

and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.

Follow the ways of your heart

    and whatever your eyes see,

but know that for all these things

    God will bring you into judgment.

So then, banish anxiety from your heart

    and cast off the troubles of your body,

    for youth and vigor are meaningless.

Ha, did you catch the humor? Do whatever you want in life.. after all, it’s your life and you only have one chance to live it. However, know that God will judge you accordingly in the end. Wow. What a gut check. I think we often forget this side of God… that although he is loving, he is also just. And perfect justice demands judgment.

So get this, the writer of this is King Solomon.. apparently the “wisest” man to ever live according to the Bible, literally had EVERYTHING the world could offer. He had fame, fortune, clothes, food (yes, TONS of food!!).. and not to mention women. LOTS of women. What else could he want in life by the world’s standards, right? Throughout his life he did whatever his heart desired, but in the end realized that it was all.. meaningless. He looked back on his life and was like, “Wow.. all the time I wasted chasing all these stupid, fleeting things that don’t even mater.. what have I done?”

I don’t want my life to amount to this in the end. I literally dread it.

As one of my favorite Pastors, Francis Chan, said in his book, Crazy Love:

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” 

I want to make my 20s count. Not just my 20s, but my whole life. I want to fight the temptation of just being average and blending in with the rest of the world… living for the moment of temporary pleasures that have no eternal significance. I want to do something extraordinary with my life, something that would be impossible if it were based on my own accomplishments. I want to live in such a way that doesn’t bring glory to myself, but to Christ’s name alone.

This truly is my life desire.

But I know that this is easier said than done. Often times I lose sight of the things I want to accomplish. My sinful flesh takes over. I get caught up in it all. It certainly isn’t an easy journey. But I will continue to hold on to the hope that I have found in Christ alone.. He will surely help me stay focused, pressing towards my goal.

Philippians 1:6 – And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.