Not even the news of an American Airlines plane crashing in Jamaica before, or an attempted terrorist attack on another plane on the same day, affected our Christmas spirit here in Miami. Forty two of us, yes 42, gathered for the traditional Christmas dinner. Some flew down from Toronto, while others came by car; some from Connecticut, and others from Maryland, fleeing the stormy weather; some flew up from sunny Jamaica to chilly Miami; others had but to drive a few miles. Some came for a few days and are back home already; others will stay for a while. We ate the traditional ham and others delicious fare; we drank the sorrel - virgin and alcoholic; then came the desert and finally the-must-play- a -game- of -kallooki, which went on until two am. So we, blood relatives, in laws, close friends, neighbours drawn together to celebrate birth of the Christ child, met and had a wonderful time. Thanks be to God.
But in the midst of the celebration, safe in the bosom of my family and encircled by friends, two verses of Scripture posed a question which, I suppose, has haunted the minds of so many people over the years, and which caused my amazement in my own mind. How could they? How could we? How come it is so easy to recognize our relatives and friends and to love them and and spend quality time with them, and yet fail to recognize our Maker. I have been in deep and persistent intercession for people who I know, but who do not know the Lord in a personal capacity as Redeemer and King, and I wonder why. Why it is so hard for them to submit to the One who loves them so much - even unto death on a Cross?
" He was in the world and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him". John 1:10-11. NIV
Here was the Creator of heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in it, coming to earth in human form - incarnate - and yet they rejected him, and continue to reject him to this very day.
Why? How can one not recognize and receive the One who made us
One meditation that I read this past week, in terms of an answer to the question, struck me very forcibly and also the words attributed to Edmund Sears , " O hush the noise ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing". No doubt we have not recognized the God-Man Christ partly because we have not been listening carefully enough to the Word of God, but have fallen prey to the " noises" of this world - and they are so many distractions, within and without. But they is more.
JESUS, OUR PEACE CHRIS TIEGEN DECEMBER 22
" Do not suppose that I Have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Matt. 10:34
IN WORD Isaiah prophesied about the coming " Prince of Peace" (9;6). The angels declared peace on earth in Luke 2:14 as they announced the coming Lord. But Jesus had a different declaration. He will be the source of much division on earth. They will draw swords against each other in heated conflict over His claims. The fact of His cross and resurrection would become history's greatest scandal. When persecution comes , friends and family members will turn each other in. And when judgement comes, He will be the dividing line by which families and nations are split..............
So the answer lies in the stubborness of the human heart, and not so much that they cannot see, but they refuse to see. And therein bring the sword and judgement on their own heads.
The refusal, the rejection was on the songwriter's heart when he penned the following words and on which I was led to reflect this week.
Thou didst leave Thy throine and Thy kingly crown
When Thou camest to earth for me .
But in Bethelehem's home was there found no room
For thy Holy Nativity
O come to me heart Lord Jesus
There is room in my heart for Thee.......
Thou camest O Lord with the living word
That should set Thy people free
But with mocking scorn and a crown of thorns
They bore Thee to Calvary
Finally the Lord validated his message the rejection of His Son by mankind, with some words from 2 Corinthians
" Therefore since through God's mercy we have this ministry ( a new covenant) , we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by settting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot the light of the gospel of of the glory Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as servants for Jesus' sake. For God who said, " Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2Cor.4:1-6
So the Lord is saying that we should respond to this incredulous situation, where men and women have rejected Jesus, not by losing hope, but instead by being bold, as all of this has been prohesied by God's word. Further, our responsibility is to preach the gospel without deception or distortion, and to focus on Christ and not ourselves, and so " commend ourselves to every man's conscience". Part of the problem, and a big part too, is that we try too hard, because the need is so great and people are so stubborn and time is so short. Forgeting that " salvation" is God'd idea not ours. We are to called to preach and to live the gospel with patience and integrity. And the more we carry out that task faithfully and live a repentant life, then God Himself will use our efforts for His glory and His honor. So for the New Year, let us pledge to
" O hush the noise ye men of strife and hear the angels sing", about the glory of God as revealed in and through Jesus Christ - the Prince of Peace.