Weekly word – 12/09/21

The Gospel and Christmas

Let’s make a list of all the controversial topics that could come up at Christmas dinner: vaccines, COVID-19, pharmaceutical companies, the police, Critical Race Theory, Roe v. Wade, China, Biden, Trump, and who to blame for the Seahawks’ dismal year. Some families discuss these things openly and courteously. Others don’t. No matter how important or divisive these topics are, one thing is true about them all: they are secondary issues. 

The primary issue in life is even more divisive. No matter how popular or unpopular your views are, there is one view that most people reject: that Jesus is the crucified and risen Lord. 

Before He ascended to heaven, Jesus declared, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” In Romans 10:9, Paul wrote, “If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Philippians 2:11 says that God requires every tongue to confess “that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” These passages show that recognition of Jesus’ authority is crucial for salvation.

Christmas is a holiday when most Americans celebrate Jesus’ birth while rejecting His authority.

So how do you help your family and friends come closer to accepting Jesus this Christmas?

Praying - You and I can’t change people’s minds about Jesus Christ. Who can? The Holy Spirit. Listen to what 1 Corinthians 12:3 says, “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” So what can we do? Pray! Ask God to save your unbelieving family. If you aren’t sure about a particular family member, pray that God, the Holy Spirit, would clarify that person’s attitude toward Jesus Christ.

Exemplifying - Part of evangelism is demonstrating Jesus is your authority in all your lifestyle. By you showing reverence for Him in all speech and actions, others can see His power. That’s what Peter explains in 1 Peter 2:11-12 “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” The visibility of our good deeds with unbelievers helps them to recognize that God is truly good.

Speaking - Family members are often the most difficult people with whom to share the gospel. There is an established hierarchy within a family. There are established norms for behavior. How can you share the gospel while also respecting that hierarchy and those norms? One simple way is to share the gospel as it pertains to you, rather than someone else. Often, when we think of sharing the gospel, we might assume it requires that we say things like, “You have sin”, “You need Jesus”, “Believe in Jesus so that you might be saved”. But that isn’t the case. You can share the gospel in many other ways.

You can do it by asking questions: “Do you have spiritual beliefs?” “Have you thought about the idea of sin?” “Do you think you sin?” “Why do you think Jesus died on the cross?” “Do you think he resurrected as the Bible teaches?”

You can tell your spiritual story: “I know I need forgiveness for things I’ve done”, “I am so thankful for forgiveness through Jesus”, and “I am grateful for Jesus’ death on the cross for me”.

If you are fearful about speaking one-on-one, you can send a letter. I spoke with someone this week who wasn’t sure how to present the gospel to his dying grandfather. He had a great idea: writing a note about the gospel and sending it with a Bible.

The Christmas Dinner Prayer - Most families don’t give thanks before meals. Jesus did (Matthew 14:19; 15:35; 26:26; Luke 24:30). If you’re in a family that doesn’t, be bold, speak up before the meal is served and ask if you can pray. If you are nervous about what to say, prepare ahead of time how you want to thank God. Consider a simple prayer that acknowledges who Jesus is and why he came to earth.

This is one of the best times of the year to share our Lord. Pray for Him to help us do it.

Pastor David