Tuesday, 31 December 2013

" Sober Reflections " at Christmas ? Tell me about it ....!

"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  
Philippians 2: 8-11.
During the week  before Christmas , I ran into  a friend in a shopping mall  in London ; after we hugged and exchanged "Merry Christmas", I noticed she had a glum expression. 
She works in one of the shops in the mall and the place was ,as usual , packed with shoppers. 
"What's happening , sweetheart? Why are you wearing that morose look at Christmas ?!" Are you being over-worked in this  place?", I asked.
" Tina,  I'm fed up with all this !",  she replied 
"Fed up with all what... ?! I asked .
In response, my good friend went on a long rambling speech ,  on and on she went;  bewailing the "sinful, worldly , commercialisation" attitude of people at Christmas .
"You know , as usual, people have gone bonkers  while preparing for Christmas!  The Christmas music in all the stores , the lights , the tinsel decorations , the crowds milling around shopping and all that stuff,  they are doing  my  head in ! "
Then she went on. "Daily, the streets and shops are packed with shoppers so much that there is  not even space for one to stand in or even move in !", she lamented.
For Christ's sake , all these commercialisation and worldliness attached  to the Christmas season is sickening! People have substituted worldly and pagan symbols which they attach to  Christmas for the  real reason for the season which is the Lord Jesus ". 
"After all , nobody  knows the exact date  Jesus was born.  December 25th  was the day of a pagan festival, Santa Claus ( Father Christmas ), Christmas trees , lights and decorations are  not even  in the Bible! These are all borrowed pagan symbols!"
 I laughed and said to myself as I listened to her  long speech; " Wow! Oh dear me, here we  go again ! And there go I  and  there goes my mouth ;  but for the grace of God !" 

I was in the shopping mall with another friend and we two  had planned a busy day  of shopping ahead . I had two Charity events  to plan for, coming up  that week,  so I really did not have time  to stop and discuss "peoples' s sinful attitude at Christmas".

 But I decided  to wait and allow her to finish her speech . I did so mainly  because I understood my good friend's perspective about the "  world's sinful attitude" to Christmas and the need for "sober reflections at Christmas !"
This her  perspective of a "Christ less Christmas " was not strange  news to me.
Before hearing her , I had heard the same sermon from many Christians on countless occasions during  many past Christmas seasons . 
It is a common ( popular ) message  preached  from pulpits during the Christmas season. 
In fact,  that same week , before meeting her , on different occasions , I heard two ministers preaching it on TV that " shopping for Christmas latest fashions , eating all sorts of rice , turkey , goat meat , Christmas cakes, mince pies and puddings and getting drunk is  not the reason for the season! It is a time  to be still before the Lord for sober reflections!"
 Just as I knew that more of such Christmas sermons will fill the air in the coming days  and  people will continue  to air such views  during Christmas until Kingdom come .
The response from the hearers of such message would be , " Amen ! Preach it Pastor  !"
After that , one  would  not  be surprised if one saw the type of "sober reflections" over bowls of assorted  meat and foods which  both the preachers and their hearers would  be engaged in as they got carried away into the Christmas feasting  and merriment!
 In the past , I  too had laboured under this same mentality which  my friend and others have  about expecting every one  to understand the "true meaning of Christmas". 
But for the grace of God which gave me  the revelation of Himself  , I myself would still be "flying the flag"  for such perspective .
For many years,  before and during past Christmases , I too had preached it in church meetings and on the streets . I have  written blogs about it , written and distributed thousands of copies of my Bible tract titled " The Reason  for the Season "; all based on the topic of "the sin of commercialisation , worldliness  and shopping orgies at Christmas " ( Oops..! What a mouth-full !)  

  

As I listened to my friend's lament ,  saw the opportunity  to respond  to that perspective and to try to  bring her out of  her sorrow at Christmas , a season of joy  to all the world
 So I decided  to postpone  my shopping and I told her that we should talk about it while  sitting down to enjoy a coffee break in one of the bars in the shopping  mall. 
As we sat down to coffee , she continued her tirade which sounded so funny  to me that I burst into loud laughter in public.
" Really ? Tell me about it ! " , I said . " You think people do not know the true meaning  of Christmas.  Is that why you are sad ? Tell me what is wrong with people shopping around and preparing  to celebrate Christmas  Day which you would agree is the most important  and most celebrated day on earth ? December 25th  is the date which is universally accepted as the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ , the Lord of Lords and  King of Kings. " 
"Firstly , I told her , "the Christmas  symbols  you mentioned , like Christmas trees , colourful lights, tinsel paper , Santa Klaus , his elves , his sleigh and his deer , led by Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,  have all become popular integral attachments  to Christmas ; just as  Easter symbols like Easter eggs , bunny , chocolate and otners which people describe as "pagan", but which have become Easter symbols .
 
 

These symbols , even if they were pagan , have ceased to be so. Why ? They do not and cannot defile Christmas  or Easter , instead they  have  been  made holy by Christmas  and Easter ; because Light  overcomes  darkness , always .  John 1 : 4-5 . 
These symbols  have been transformed , even from the moment when they were accepted as symbols associated with the celebration of the Birth and resurrection of the Lord Jesus  Christ .
"Do you know ", I continued ," that even some Christians are preaching that it  is "unchristian" for church services  to  be  held in hotel premises and cinema halls ? 
To them it is a great sin and a scandalous sacrilege for any church to use such "unclean" venues.
 But  the truth of the matter is  that the  so-called "unclean and demonic venues " cannot defile the  Church ; the true Church's bears the Light of Jesus and as such , the assembly of Christians sanctifies all so-called  "unclean , sinful and demonic " venues.
Also symbols , commercialisation and lustful excesses by people  cannot defile Christmas or any other Christian  celebrations .
Are people saying that because of all the vices at Christmas , so we should stop celebrating the season; we should go into hiding in caves  and weep and mourn there?
Do you get my  point ?"

Furthermore , there are billions of shoppers  and traders who  do not  "know Jesus" and so they "do not do Jesus"  but they actively celebrate Christmas and New Year Day. 
When non- Christians decide  to join us  to celebrate the birthday of our King Jesus , is it right  for us  to discourage them from doing so by expecting them  to be  on the same level of spiritual awareness as we are at Christmas ?
 Jesus  said : "For he that is not against us is on our part". Mark 9 :40. (  vs 38-41)
 Yes! I agree with you " she said. "What I think is wrong  is not the shopping , the symbols and all that  per se ;  what is wrong  is the attitude of people before and after Christmas Day every year .  As early as September , the rush starts ! Especially people who do not believe in Jesus Christ and what He came  to the world for start preparing  to celebrate a Christ less Christmas! All over the world , what we see are  unbelieving  traders and unbelieving shoppers who don't give a toss about Christ ; these are people who know nothing about the reason for this holy season but they run around like headless chicken; stocking up their stores and rushing around ,  shopping everywhere!

 People  even incur huge debts just to  get  ready for wild partying, drunkenness  and unnecessary feasting during Christmas! " 
"But these same people  spare no time  to pause  for  adoration and worship of Christ and they do  not engage in  sober reflections of  who Jesus is  and about the true meaning of Christmas.! Yet they say they are "celebrating Christmas ".

When she saw the look of amusement on our faces , she said, "No , please don't laugh!" .
" This is not a laughing matter ! This is the season for  us to take up serious prayers , to educate  people for them to know the true reason  for this season.  We all as Christians should travail in prayers in the spirit and cry out  to God  to deliver a perishing world from this widespread ignorance and disregard of what Christmas truly is!"
My other friend who knew my stand on this topic , looked at me  and  we laughed the more. 
My reply was ,  " You are right about the aspect of people placing too much focus  on the orgies of  excessive  shopping , partying , drunkenness and so on and  so forth , before and during Christmas ;  but I disagree with  you about your perspective about "sin , commercialisation and worldly attitude of people at Christmas ".
 "Why do you say so ?" Is that not what is happening all around us in this world today?"
"Yes , it is happening .  But what do you expect  from people whose souls and spirits  are unregenerate ? You are talking about  people who do not know and cannot know who Jesus is  and what He came  to the world for ." ( Romans 8: 5-8 ).
When we preach at the world that they don't have  a clue about what Christmas means , it is true they  don't. I
t is also a fact that a two-year old  child hasn't got the faintest clue about what you are asking him to do  when you shout and scold him for not wiping  his nose after sneezing  or for not washing his dirty dishes after eating with them !"
 When we  say things  like these , what  we are implying is that we are expecting every human being  to WORSHIP  Christ with " prayers  , thanksgiving and sober reflections  " of Him instead of shopping and celebrating during Christmas . That  is  not possible for every human being to do. 
 Worship  is the  surrender of your entire self , your time and your treasures to the one  who you accept as Lord  and Master . Worship is expected from Believers and worship can only flow from hearts that are filled with love and obedience towards their Lord.
How could any person  surrender to a Lord and Master who he or she has  had  no encounter with and of whom they have no revelation ? "
To  such people,  hearing what you  say is  the  "sin of commercialisation , worldliness and lack of knowledge of the meaning of Christmas", is like being told that it is bad manners for them  to smack their lips , lick their fingers  and to let out loud belches after they've had a satisfying meal! 
People who have been told several times  why they shouldn't do all that   while eating in the company of others know it is wrong  to do so ,  but they still do it any way  because of lack of  self control ".

"Tell me , I said, "whenever you or anyone  you know are preparing to celebrate an important date , what do you do ? 
Of course  you plan ahead and prepare for it by shopping ( maybe piling up debts?) for all you will need , months ahead of the due date. Don't we all shop and prepare ahead  ?"
"Then, why is it that people complain  of  "the sin of excessive shopping , piling up debts , worldliness , commercialisation  and feasting at Christmas" ; but these same people develop selective amnesia when they spend months preparing and they lavish huge sums of money shopping  for the celebrations of their own events like weddings , birthdays , baby showers  and Christening and their church  seminars, conventions , anniversaries and other events ?" 
 "Then nobody  remembers to preach  about  the need for people  to pause  for sober reflections on the true meaning  of weddings , birthdays  and church events ;  neither do we hear sermons telling people  to  stay away from the "worldly" shopping centres and to avoid the sin of embarking  on shopping sprees! "
"We  never hear any prolonged sermons about "commercialisation of weddings , birthdays  and church events! Why the silence about these personal and church events ?"
"You work in this shopping mall and  your salary is paid from the proceeds of  wht you call the commercialisation of Christmas and Christ less Christmas celebrations ? "
London is the world's  Number One choice  for all big-spending  shoppers from around the world  who come to the UK seeking  to buy the best of the top-of -range , quality goods.
The money spent  by the millions of shoppers  in the UK  especially at Christmas ,  oil the wheels of the UK economy which  i turn pays the salaries which we use  to maintain ourselves and our families and other dependants ; also to pay the tithes , offerings  and seed offerings  which maintain our churches.
Nobody has yet rejected their salaries , and we are yet  to hear of any  church rejecting  their tithes and offerings because they said  such were paid from the incomes generated from " Christ less Christmas celebrations!"

" My dear, at Christmas billions of people celebrate Jesus Christ  like what  Apostle  Paul saw the Athenians  doing . The Athenians  had built an altar to  the UNKNOWN GOD  when Apostle Paul visited their city .  
Acts 17 : 21- 29.  
Billions of  unbelievers have heard about the Gospel and they know that Christ was born on Christmas  Day as the Saviour of the world. But these people, sadly , have not had a conversion experience and so  do  not believe in this truth and so they cannot perceive the "true meaning of Christmas" . 1 Corinthians 2:14.
 People know that  not only at Christmas , but always  it is wrong  to live Christ less lives , but  do they listen , do they make amends ?
The "sober reflections" of the "world" at Christmas is based on their own choices  about how best they know how to celebrate the Christmas season.
Ask unbelievers  about the " true meaning of Christmas " and you would be surprised that people  who you thought  did not know , actually do know the  right answer.  
But as we know,  knowledge , belief  and obedience  are three different things.
The world's lack of knowledge and lack of revelation of  who Christ is doesn't stop unbelievers  from  joining Believers to celebrate Christmas ; they rejoice on the birthday of the God which is unknown  to unbelievers. 
Billions of people , be they Christians or non Christians  celebrate Christmas because they ACKNOWLEDGE  the personality  of Christ , they recognise Jesus  as the greatest man who ever lived on earth and they recognise the Christmas season as the greatest  season of international celebration on earth . 
People  LOVE and ADORE  Christmas Day with all its symbols , the excitement ,  its electric atmosphere , the ambiance , the shopping and the feasting . 
The  present day Christmas shoppers did  not start this tradition of shopping sprees and celebration of Christmas.
 It started thousands of years ago , many months before Christ was even born .
The wise men from the Orient  started  this tradition of  shopping for special gifts for Christmas day.
 When these great men  decided  to set out on their long journey to Jerusalem , many months before  Jesus was born, they didn't just up sticks and started to go .
 Before they set out , what did they do? They went SHOPPING; not just their usual shopping but they shopped , searched for , selected  and bought  the very best and most expensive  gifts  fit only  for a king.  Only the very best would for my King! Matthew 2 : 1- 12.
Can you imagine how "bonkers" these wise men must  have seemed in the eyes of  their families , friends and neighbours  as they prepared  to load their camels with food , drinks  and gifts for the  King of Kings , whose name and address they did not even know? 
Matthew 2:2. 
""Sirs , where are you going ? We are just following that  star  to wherever it stops,  to worship the King!"
People in their home country and in Jerusalem must have laughed these wise men  to scorn and must have feared for their sanity as they went  on thousands of miles journey through a hostile desert terrain , looking  for the newborn  KING  who few had ever heard of! 

For many centuries now, Christmas Day  has been celebrated in all the nations of the earth by Presidents , Prime Ministers, judges , kings , queens , nobles and their entire courts  and governments .
                


The  world economic system and governments , financial institutions , schools , major transport networks , offices and shopping malls in all the most important  nations and cities in the world , shut down on Christmas Day as a mark of respect and recognition for the birthday of Jesus Christ the Son of God .
The name of Jesus is exalted above every other name .  Philippians 2 : 8-11 
Who else but Jesus Christ  is so honoured and which other  Faith  but Christianity commands such world-wide recognition , adoration and  respect?  None whatsoever.
 In fact , because of the way Christmas Day and New Year Day are  celebrated on earth ,  millions of Christians world-wide feel very proud and privileged to be Christians. 
It is obvious that the adherents of the world religions would  give their two eye balls , just  to get even one hundredth of the  so-called " paganism and commercialisation " , for their own religious feast days to be able  to attain one-hundredth of the level of the pomp  and pageantry , the glamour , the glory  and the world-wide  official recognition and world-wide celebrations which accompany Christmas Day and New Year day being the first day of the Christian New Year.
Unsurprisingly , this world -wide recognition , respect  and great celebration of Christmas which is not given  to the feast days of other faiths have been the cause  for great anger and great envy amongst the agents of the devil which has resulted  in them taken  it out on Christians  by bombing churches  and killing  Christians , especially at  Christmas. 
 Satan  possessed and controlled king Herod to exhibit  great anger , fear and envy leading to his giving the order for  the mass murder of  thousands of innocent children . Matthew 2 :16.
It is the same Satan who is  living inside the enemies of Christ and the enemies of Christians that  is controlling these enemies  to exhibit great anger and envy towards Christians , resulting in their  committing  mass murder of innocent people . 

 To conclude, what I perceive in the attitude of  people at Christmas is "not blatant worldliness". I  see people's inadvertent adoration of Jesus Christ  and acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as King , as Lord and as the Greatest Person who ever lived on earth.
At Christmas  I see  joy, love, rejoicing , fellowship , sharing , exchange of gifts , goodwill and warm greetings. I see peace and reconciliation between bitter enemies . 
Christmas is the season  for cease-fires between warring factions in homes , in  marriages , in extended families and on most  battle fronts worldwide. 
Even the most unfriendly neighbours and  colleagues  and even drunk persons who can barely stand on their  feet , would smile and say , "Merry Christmas!"
 In the celebrations at Christmas I see fulfillment of  Bible prophesies of who Jesus Christ is  and of what He can do  in human lives. One of such prophesies is t
"I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
 Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed ". Isaiah 45 : 23 -24.


Every business person  in the major cities of the world is smart enough to know that she or he  must stock up  for Christmas sales. Some of them are  not Christians ; they  are  traders who are either Sikhs, Muslims , Hindus , Jews , pagans or atheists 
Some business men and shoppers are avowed and very articulate atheists who definitely do not "do " Jesus Christ . They do  not hide their resentment and hatred of  Christ and His Church .
But at Christmas season, what do they do ? They  all  BOW and they must "do" Jesus Christ at Christmas by joining in the mass shopping spree , if not  for themselves for their spouses , children extended families and friends.
Have you noticed the strange smiles on the faces of some shop owners as they have  to say , "Merry Christmas" , whether they like it or not, just  to attract  shoppers into their stores?
 In  every business man and woman  and in every shopper who stocks up in anticipation of the celebration of Christmas Day and New year Day , I do not see "the sin of  worldliness and commercialisation of Christmas " but I see adoration of Christmas . 
Every business man and shopper who have stocked up for the Christmas season, whether they believe in Jesus Christ or not ; by going out of their way to  buy tonnes of stock to sell  and by shopping  on any scale , they are inadvertently celebrating and adoring the Kingship of Jesus Christ .
Whether they know the fact  or not ,  it means  they  have  BOWED  to the Kingship of Jesus and they  have added to the pomp , the  glamour and the world-wide recognition of Jesus Christ and the Christmas season!. 
  
By the time we finished our coffee break , I had succeeded in cheering up my friend  and in convincing her that the whole world indeed acknowledges Christ  and bows in adoration  to Jesus Christ  during the Christmas  season.
There is a time  for everything. Christmas is a season  for acknowledging the joy which Jesus brought  to the world . This entails celebrating Christmas by giving gifts in cash and kind,  given to others , especially  to the poor and the needy.
 To do this , we must do what ? We must Go Shopping and we should celebrate.
 I have a list of persons I have chosen to bless  in cash and in kind during this Christmas and New Year season and I am also expecting lots of gifts from many people.

How could anybody, any home or any nation   remain the same at Christmas ?
O you peoples of the earth , rejoice and be exceeding glad . I say rejoice for our King Jesus reigns as Lord of the whole universe.
Like billions of people worldwide are , I am not "sober "at all.  
This is Christmas and so I am "drunk"  !  Drunk with excitement , with joy and thanksgiving. How about that ?
If anyone wants  to go into "sober" mournful  mode because of  the sins of the world at Christmas, they are welcome  to do so.
As for me I have  no intention of travailing for "the sins of the world at Christmas " ;  neither do I have any intention  of  coiling  up in one corner in "sober reflection" to mourn over anything or anybody.
 I intend to do what I do each year  at Christmas , that is giving  joyful thanks in prayers, worship to God ,  by rolling out the drums , celebrating  to the fullest with my friends and family , also I will put smiles on the faces of the less privileged . 
Thank God  for Christmas ! 
Thank you O our Father for giving us your son Jesus !
I wish you all a Joyful and Merry Christmas and an outstandingly Happy New Year . Amen.

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