Forest for the Trees

Tomorrow is Christmas Day.  So, depending on lots of different factors, that could mean a lot to you, mean a little to you, mean nothing at all to you, or just mean a day off of work.

Regardless, it’s become a day where I dare say most Americans show kindness towards one another.  Whether that is a conscious effort or just happens because everyone else is doing it, I would say it would be harder to find folks who are just being rude or otherwise ugly to others tomorrow.

Maybe it’s because of giving or receiving gifts.  Maybe it’s because even the most desolate among our population can find warmth, food, and shelter during the time of year where we actually care for the least of these.  Maybe it really is because we’re almost guaranteed a day off, regardless of what profession we are in.

(Let me stop and give a word of thanks to those that doesn’t apply to – those in law enforcement and fire departments, those in the medical emergency field, and those hourly employees of places that still choose to be open and available.)

So, let me offer a radical idea.  Why don’t we do that all the time?

Let me offer another radical idea on how that would even start – we would first have to rid ourselves of casting a judgment on someone based on how they look, what they do, what they believe, or how they talk.

In the early 1990s, a youth leader in Michigan unintentionally started a movement that would wash throughout youth groups in Evangelical Christian churches.  It was a simple acronym that turned into a bracelet that morphed into a movement.  WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?

Careful, because if you really want to know the answer to that, it’s a lot harder than just being kind to others.

Let me instead tell you a few things that Jesus would not do.

  1.  He would not spend his time telling those who claim to be gay, bisexual, lesbian, or transgender that they are going to hell.  Why not?  Because he spent his time telling others about life everlasting, knowing that anyone that didn’t know and trust in Him was destined for hell anyway.  Regardless of what they claimed to be.  This counts just as much for the guy in the third section, fifth pew that rarely misses church on Sunday morning, but doesn’t have a personal relationship with Christ.  So instead of dwelling on the “what is wrong” with others, I think Jesus would just focus on what’s most important – telling others about Christ.  Careful though – someone who has been forgiven of their sins may just turn away from them without you telling them what’s sinful about themselves in the first place.
  2. He would not spend his time worrying about policies of government.  I’m not sure what my Facebook or Twitter feeds would look like if I eliminated all of the memes, links, and posts that referenced political figures or candidates, gun laws, immigration, abortion, gay marriage, or racial issues.  But, I think I’d like it.  The Enemy is real and he seeks to steal, kill, and destroy with whatever means necessary.  And sometimes those means are to distract you with something that seems like you’re fighting for what’s good, such as endorsing a political candidate that claims Christianity or opposing abortion or gay marriage.  But, in essence you’re only coming across as intolerant to the rest of the world – not the way to gain street cred with the masses.  Just because I don’t stand on my front porch and scream about the evils of homosexuality doesn’t mean I agree with it.  I don’t post on my wall about my 2nd amendment rights, even though I have a carry permit in my wallet.  I’d like to think Jesus would spend time caring for the poor and hungry, being light in the darkness, and going home to eat with those that the world detests.  You know, boring stuff like that.
  3. He also would not spend his time playing church.  If you find your time at church spent discussing styles of music, policies in the nursery, or surrounding yourselves with others that will complain about the same policies, programs, or staff members that you do, then I’m not sure you get it.  Serving within the church, serving outside the church alongside others, growing yourself closer to God within a body of believers, and spending time worshipping the one true King.  Those things would mark a church I think Jesus would attend.  If it’s just for the food at get-togethers and saying “I’m praying for you,” when you really aren’t, well. . . .

So don’t miss the forest for the trees.  Don’t miss what God calls us to do over and over again.  Serve others (Matthew 25:34-46) and build His army of disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) in the process.  Anything that distracts you from that or eliminates anyone from the list of “everyone” that Jesus would attend to, means the Enemy is succeeding.

I am constantly thankful for my crew.  A loving, godly (and drop-dead gorgeous) wife and four amazing kids.  I am most thankful for what Christmas is a symbolic reminder of – the gift of eternal life through a baby that was birthed by an unmarried virgin behind a hotel in the stall with the animals.

That would’ve blown up some Facebook feeds.

Merry Christmas!

But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:   Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.
Luke 2:10-11

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