What are your plans to prepare your heart for Christmas this year?
“Jesus didn’t judge anyone and neither should you.”
The bright blue bumper sticker on the red Mini Cooper caught my eye as it cruised by me in the mall parking lot. The woman driving looked tired and stressed.
As I watched her drive by, I felt bad for her. In her misunderstanding of the person and work of Jesus Christ she missed a critical life-saving truth:
When Jesus came to earth the first time He came as a gentle Savior offering peace with God through the free gift of salvation, but when Jesus returns the second time, it will be as the righteous Judge of all who’ve rejected His gift.
Her bumper sticker has had me thinking about those who are separated from Christ and His promises, those “without hope, and without God in the world.” (Eph 2:12) The “unsaved.” It grieves me they haven’t heard and understood the full gospel or haven’t received His gift of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. For those who haven’t received His gift, there will be no marriage feast at the Lord’s table, no joyous reunion with lost loved ones, no room reserved in the Father’s house.
For the unsaved, there will be no Christmas gift of “peace on earth” in this life — and certainly no peace afterward in death.
Instead, this terrifying prospect awaits them:
But for those of us who’ve received Christ as our Savior from sin, Christmas is a time to prepare our heart to rejoice in the intimate relationship we enjoy with God because of the gift of His Son Jesus. Christmas is a time to rejoice in the intimate relationship we enjoy with God because of the gift of salvation through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Click To Tweet It’s a time to celebrate Christ’s birth while looking forward to His promised gathering up of Believers both living and deceased in a forever reunion in heaven with Him. (More on this in another post.)
God’s words soothe our fears and bring peace to our hearts. The prospect of His return strengthens us, and we are comforted in our pain and trials. But what about those without peace or hope for anything better than the struggle they are facing today?
Photo by Petrisor Ionel
Jesus calls us to share His gospel hope at Christmas and He sets the stage for us to do it. Here are two powerful reasons that help prepare our hearts and spur us to share the gospel when opportunities arise:
The need is GREAT
Did you know last year there were 1,300,000 suicide attempts in the US?¹ In addition, teen depression rose 33% and suicide rates jumped by 23%.² I could go much deeper on this, but you get the point. There are a lot of hurting hearts out there. People need the Lord!
The stakes are HIGH
The unsaved will either receive Jesus as Savior
Or face Jesus as Judge
Even with so much at stake our preoccupation with our struggles can make us forget the urgent need to share the gospel with those who have no hope. That’s why it’s so important to prepare our heart To take advantage of the unique opportunity Christmas provides to share Jesus. In our preoccupation with our struggles we can forget the urgent need to share the gospel with those who have no hope. Click To Tweet
Too often our desire for Jesus’s return stems from an escape hatch mentality: “Life is too hard,” “I’m weary of struggling with grief,” “I want out of this trial . . .” And then we miss a critical truth: Jesus isn’t returning to snatch us up and snap us into a protective bubble. He’s returning to rid the world of sin, grief, and pain and to restore the perfection, joy, and peace planned at creation: Just imagine a perfect world, filled with perfect people, living in unbroken communion and joy with their holy Creator.
And in the meantime Believers enjoy His presence, power, and promises:
What a future God has waiting for those who trust Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin and death! As we prepare our hearts for Christmas this year will we make room in our hearts to host a burden for those without comfort, peace, or God? This holiday season, I’m going to lay aside my troubles and prepare to share my hope in Christ with those who need it. How about you?
Lord, please forgive us for getting so caught up in our desire for escape that we forget the urgent need for the deliverance of those who don’t know You. Give us a heart that aches for those who won’t “meet the Lord in that air . . .” and be “comforted.”
Help us remember that we were once lost, too.
Lord, use our hands, feet, and hearts to love those around us into Your kingdom. Make us unwilling to stop, unwilling to rest until we have loved with all we are, until we’ve given all we have — and more — in order to bring that lost, hungry soul across the table, across the room, across town, to look to the skies with the same hope and expectation that we daily enjoy.
What will you do to prepare your heart for Christmas?
(My next post will include a conversational gospel message and a variety of resources you can share with the unsaved people you know.)Featured image by Sven Scheuermeier