There are many ways that we can take advantage of the Christmas holiday season. Holidays offer many opportunities over non-holidays. These opportunities can include spending time with family that we infrequently see throughout the year. There is also all the good food and the allowance to indulge, even it is only a little. There is also the purchasing and receiving of gifts. I am sure that you can think of other benefits that we enjoy this time of the year. I would argue that that most important, is the greater freedom to share the message of Jesus, especially with those that are struggling.
I was recently reminded of the significance of a well-loved memory verse as I was reading the Gospel of Luke early this morning. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) I know that all the verses in the Bible are great, but this one stands out to me. It communicates in a short format the heart of our Creator!
I had forgotten that this declaration of God’s intent is found at the conclusion of Jesus ministering to a person that was an outsider to the Jews. Culturally he had several strikes against him. First, was his profession. The second, was that he became rich because of his profession. I have heard it said that “American’s love success but hate successful people.” There is truth in that statement. It seems to me that that saying could apply to any people group. What is interesting about this account from Jesus’ earthly ministry is that He chose to look at people differently. He looked at them for who they were. This person may have also been marginalized because of his diminutive height. Any guesses on who I am talking about? If you guessed, Zacchaeus, you are correct.
What stands out to me in the account is that Jesus has a heart for all people. Tax collectors back then were just as unpopular as they are today. The danger of evaluating others based on stereotypes is that we often get it wrong. Our opinions blind us to who the real person is. Zacchaeus’ heart had been prepared by the Holy Spirit to become a follower of Jesus. And the same thing happens to Jesus also. What is interested about the account is that Jesus also comes under scrutiny and criticism for hanging out with an undesirable. The beauty of this account is that a person’s life was transformed by Jesus. The is the core meaning of Christmas!
So you may be wondering what this has to do with “Taking Advantage of Christmas?” Well, it relates for a couple’s reasons. First, most people understand the Biblical meaning of the Holiday, Jesus’ birth. Second, God is working in hearts and lives all the time. Christmas is a great time share with others what Jesus has done in your life. This is another way that we can “take advantage” of the Christmas holiday this year!
Let me encourage you to take the opportunity to “ask grace” at times of meals together. It is also a great time to share or have someone read the Luke 2 account of Jesus birth. It can also be a great conversation starter to ask another what they think about the “traditional” meaning of Christmas. You might be surprised to learn that God has already been working in this person’s heart!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson