Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
-- John 14:6
Have you already had your fill of the holidays? The decorations went up in many stores before Halloween and the songs have been on the radio for weeks. So now that Christmas is actually just a few days away, it's a good time to consider what--or really Who--we will celebrate on December 25.
It comes down to the radical notion that God loves His people so much that He sent His only Son to personally pay for the mess we've all made of our lives and a once unspoiled creation. With this immense price now cleared from our individual accounts, every Believer, through faith in Jesus, is free to serve as His hands and feet throughout the community and even the world. It's a universal body of Christ-followers sent to testify that it's nothing less than The Church on the Move.
So how has the church done on this mission over the last 2,000 years? The story goes that a missionary once asked Mahatma Gandhi--the pacifist Hindu leader called The Father of India--why he so often quoted Jesus but refused to become His follower.
"Oh, I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ," replied Gandhi. "It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ."
Yes, we Christ-followers find ourselves in a predicament...and in the cross-hairs for criticism. Relativism rules America these days, and what's obviously right or wrong is no longer considered so black or white. Popular culture vilifies those who believe in Jesus and His teachings. And those who dare to point out our nation's retreat from God are called bigots and hate-merchants.
The world really is upside down. For many celebrities, musicians and sports stars, breaking the law or embracing immorality is just a career move. But if a Christ-follower--real or in name only--slips up and does something wrong, the word hypocrite soon appears on social media.
It should come as no surprise. After all, Christ-followers indeed hold some narrow and politically incorrect beliefs. One is that Jesus is the only way to God. Ultimately, the world's false philosophies and religions fall far short of His standards. And it's Good News that the world can't tolerate.
"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil," responds God, "who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."
As we look forward to marking Jesus' birth on December 25, let's all strive to be salt and light for a world that's in dire need of guidance, truth and character. So many are watching us, and they're understandably skeptical. May it be that every Christ-follower celebrates The One through changed lives revealing love in action!