Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Joy of an Imperfect Christmas

Last week, during a conference call, a well-to-do client talked about the stress he and others experienced during the “holidays.” He said that he was just recovering from the 2013 holiday season. Later that day, the not so well-to-do lady who cuts my hair talked to me about how glad she would feel once the holidays are over because of all the stress associated with them. Both my client and my barber talked to me about how people strive for perfect holidays, my barber bemoaned the emphasis on “things” rather than family and friends.

It occurs to me that there is no freedom or rest or contentment or true enjoyment in the idea of a “perfect Christmas.” In fact, the idea of a perfect Christmas, as portrayed by retailers and governments (who want us to spend money) and credit card companies, is contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You could say that the idea of a perfect Christmas, as portrayed by the aforementioned elements of society, is (whether intentional or not) an attack on the First Christmas for the First Christmas came to be because we are an imperfect people –in fact we are a sinful people.

The irony is that in not striving for a perfect Christmas we can experience a wonderful Christmas. When not striving for a perfect Christmas, but as imperfect people trusting in a perfect Savior, we can experience a Christmas of peace and contentment.

The image of a perfect Christmas as presented by retailers and car companies and governments and financial institutions is cruel as it leads people as lambs to financial and emotional slaughter – it is an image that can only disappoint, can only be fleeting, and can only lead to disillusionment.

But when an imperfect and sinful people rest and trust in a perfect Savior born on that First Christmas, then and only then can we know rest and contentment and peace; then and only then can we focus on people and not on things; then and only then can we escape the bondage of financial slavery; and then and only then can we know the Greatest Gift of All – our Lord Jesus Christ. God gave His Son to us on that First Christmas – are we giving His Son to others on this Christmas?

Let us tell others that we are not striving for a perfect Christmas, but rather that we are rejoicing in a Perfect Savior.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Never-ending Therapeutic

Therapy never ends; once in it, seldom out of it. There is no closure in a therapeutic culture for everything is geared to further self-analysis and the high maintenance of feelings – when good feelings become the measure of life they are like a narcotic – we insist on more and more feel-good experiences in order to maintain the “high” of feelings.

Christians no longer confess their sins to God and to each other, they “share” mistakes they have made and errors in judgment. There is no closure in therapeutic sharing without confession of sin – for only the forgiveness of God bestowed on one who repents brings lasting relief from guilt. Therapeutic cultures can inoculate people from guilt, and without guilt there is no repentance, and without repentance there is no forgiveness, and without forgiveness there is no closure – no redemption – no true “new days,” or second or third opportunities to learn obedience.

Is it any wonder the content of Christian music often lacks a Biblical foundation when its goal is to make people feel good? Should we be surprised when therapeutic and motivational speaking is the norm in many churches as opposed to a clear exposition of God’s Word pointing to Jesus Christ?

A therapeutic culture, whether within the church or in broader society, is a culture as cruel as an opium den – for while it may deaden pain and provide sweet dreams, the dreams will become nightmares and masking the pain hides the disease of sin which only God in Christ can heal through confession of sin, repentance, receiving God’s forgiveness, and following the Christ of the Cross.