A year-end reflection
Christmas and a new year are just a few weeks away. For some it will be a joyful time, while for others the season merely intensifies the pain of an unwanted reality. For all of us, it’s an opportunity to get out of our ordinary routines and look with new eyes at the gift the Christ child is to us. What did it really mean for the Creator of the universe to take on human form, to be born into a nondescript family in unremarkable surroundings to an unwed mother and a carpenter father? What did it really mean for us that once He grew up, after living a life untainted by personal sin, He was ultimately labelled a criminal and condemned to die a brutal death? What did it mean for us that He willingly submitted to His death sentence, rose again, ascended to heaven, and sent His Holy Spirit to earth to be our Comforter, our Guide, and to make us His messengers?
It’s all good news. It confirms for us that God, although holy, is approachable, relatable, reliable, and still very much active in our midst. It affirms for us that God is interested—even deeply invested—in our life story and is profoundly involved in every aspect of the human experience, no matter who or where we are. Because of Jesus’ example, the words He spoke, the life He lived, and the sacrifice He made, anyone can feel not only welcome to come near to Him, but to trust Him for everything we need. Not only will He forgive our sins and give us a new life, He is able to understand, help, encourage, and bring us through any situation that may otherwise feel like an impossible burden. Even more than that, once we have experienced the life transformation that comes from trusting in the finished work of Christ on the cross, we’re compelled to share His power and promises with others. There are many people who have either not understood how the message of the cross applies to them personally or have not heard the message at all.
As singer and writer Steve Bell writes, “Jesus is the extreme form of God’s love made flesh. Through his redemptive love, he uniquely reveals God and God’s character; he reverses the normal press of inordinate top-down powers and redeems all creation from the bottom up through the mechanism of humble self-donation. Those who follow Jesus’ way (wittingly or not) participate in this redemption, for whoever loves God loves all that God loves.”1 As Christ followers, God’s indwelling Spirit continually encourages us to hope for God’s kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and to actively participate, personally and corporately, in His work to this end in our world. To love the world as He loves it. To love the unlovable as He loves them. To stand with the oppressed and marginalized in our communities and cities as He would.
There is certainly no shortage of anxiety-inducing triggers these days. As Christmas and a new year approach, we can make a determined effort to carve out meaningful moments to turn our hearts toward the Lord and to renew our minds in His Word. As we strengthen and encourage ourselves in His presence, we’ll have many opportunities to communicate hope to those who may be putting on a brave face on the outside, but who are secretly battling deep fear and anxiety about the future on the inside. God knows exactly what each person needs to have their hearts touched and changed by His truth—and each of us can be just the person a listener will be receptive to if we’re available and sensitive to His leading.
This issue of testimony/Enrich captures a range of contexts where God has been at work, quietly calling people to relationship with Him through Jesus or renewing their hope in His promises. May your hope also be renewed in His power to redeem your circumstances or to change the lives of anyone who is far from Him. And may this season be the beginning of a deeper level of abiding in Christ for you, and a wider circle of influence for His purposes in 2020.
This article appeared in the October/November/December 2019 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2019 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.
1. Steve Bell, Christmas, Pilgrim Year Series (Ottawa, ON: Novalis Publishing Inc., 2018), 19.