I had a small devotional wrap-up at the end of a recent Christmas service. Following is the manuscript of what I shared. Thought it would be good to post it here. Some of the references relate to the Christmas service, but I think the main thrust of the piece can stand on its own. Hope something here is valuable to you.
"What are you going to do with Jesus? This human manifestation of God himself, leaving his Father’s side to come and join us in the human experience, born only to be sacrificed on our behalf. What are you going to do with Jesus? From the beginning of time, God has been laying the foundation for you and I to deal with this question.
It’s a question that generations of people around the world have faced since that night in Bethlehem. It’s a question whose ramifications have altered the course of history. What to do with Jesus.
Many have chosen alternate paths, finding other belief systems or perhaps the trappings the world offers that are begging for our allegiance and our faith. Others have chosen to simply ignore this Jesus, instead forging ahead with their own set of values, moral compass, or popular self-help thinking of the day. Truth is, in this universe that God has created, there is an undeniable reality known as free will. Frankly, you can choose to do with Jesus as you see fit. And we’ve all done just that.
Some have embraced Him, going so far as to make Him their Lord, which is another way of saying Master, or even Boss. If that’s you today, I hope this morning has been a sort of ‘holy reminder’ to you. Of a God who has loved you since the beginning of time. A God who knows what its like to walk in your shoes. A God who has never and will never abandon you. A God who gives you peace that goes beyond your ability to understand.
Some have decided to pick & choose which parts of Jesus we’ll embrace, and leave the other, more uncomfortable parts of Jesus to be picked up by someone else. If that’s you, I hope this morning you’ll reconsider Jesus. This baby who later died on a cross for you offers abundant life, yet so many of us are wondering when that kicks in.
Many, however, want little to do with him. Usually, it has little to do with Jesus himself. In fact, many non-followers of Jesus have high regard for his teachings. Jesus isn’t the problem - it’s the incompatibility that exists between His teachings and the lifestyle & behavior of some of his followers. As Brennan Manning says, "it’s what an unbelieving world finds simply unbelievable."
If that’s where you are this morning, I hope you’ll indulge me for a moment and look beyond our hypocrisy to the story we’ve told you today. Yes, sometimes those of us who claim to be his followers come up short and don’t live our lives in a manner that exemplifies this Jesus. We’re pretty good at being the vocal mouthpiece of the body of Christ, but not so good at being the hands & feet of Christ. But that doesn’t make the story any less true. It just makes us fallen human beings, in need of grace that can only come from God.
You see, from the beginning of creation, we were a part of the plan. Somewhere in the outskirts of this enormous universe, God saw fit to design one tiny speck that has the capacity to sustain life. We call that speck Earth. That tiny speck would be the home of many billions of other tiny specks called humans. Since the creation of the first of our type, God has been at work, all throughout history. The Prophets came along as spokespersons for God with a message that some day, God himself would come and a new arrangement would be instituted - not an empty system of religion based on rules, but rather a personal relationship with God himself, a relationship based on love.
A love that would come to us as a precious baby, climax by going to a cross on behalf of humanity, and continue to dwell in the hearts of millions. A love that’s available to you. Today.
This really is a choose your own ending story. We wouldn’t go to all of this trouble if we didn’t think there was good reason. Our troop of storytellers? We’ve each been changed by this Jesus who still does wonders. How does your story end? That’s up to you. Will you leave Jesus safe & sound in the manger, or will you welcome Him into your life as a personal God who still does wonders? Will you say to him these words - "You’re my king." This light of the world named Jesus who stepped down into our world to give us life."