In China, much of the visible Christmas activity revolves around kitschy Santa Claus and Christmas tree decorations at malls and shops. For Christians, however, this is a time of celebration to remember the birth of Christ. Similar to churches in the West, for many Chinese churches, Christmas is one of the busiest and joyous times of the year.
In this article from China Christian Daily, Pastor Patrick Yang reflects on how Christians can at times get distracted from the Christian significance of the holiday. Yang warns of the secular distractions and even the conflict that can stir up in churches during this season. He encourages all Christians to ask themselves if they have really prepared their hearts this season to welcome the birth of our Savior.
Are You "Really" Ready For Christmas?
Every year, Christians around China prepare for Christmas by decorating churches, rehearsing Christmas plays, and purchasing gifts.
These activities are understandable. But, if this is all Christians do, then Christmas has lost its meaning. As children of God, Christians should emphasize one thing: preparing themselves fully. As Christmas approaches, we should ask ourselves: "Am I really ready?”
There have been some things in the church recently that have come to my attention: sisters fighting for prominent positions, others bickering over certain church decisions, people rolling their eyes at one another over which hymn to sing, comments about the lack of coordination, people leaving, and even people who just remain silent.
It’s very sad to see this. Is this really how we should act? Are we really going to welcome the Lord's birth with conflicts, sluggishness, discordance, and nonchalance?
How sad it can be when holy Christmas worship is instead turned into a stage to showcase these embarrassing things about us. It has become a crisis in modern, secularized Christmas celebrations.
Do you know that God loved us long before we knew our Savior? When we resisted him, he had already died for us. He gave us grace, blessings, and the greatest love; is this how we prepare ourselves? Is this how we welcome him?
Do you know that there was no place for him when our Lord was born?
Do you know that other than the magi, no one else worshipped him?
Looking at our Savior, do you really have the gall to greet him full of the angst of the world, the filthy darkness, or with rigidity and coldness? Do you have the heart to worship him with discouragement, weakness, and indifference?
Take this moment to reflect on your behavior; are you sitting on the throne of Herod, Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh, or yourself? It's really hard to prepare when we don't fully understand ourselves; unless we learn from the king of Nineveh who rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, we cannot say to our savior: "Please take your seat!”
The most indispensable thing for the children of God to do during Christmas is to prepare their hearts as the holy temple for the birth of God. Without the willing heart, what's the point of the superficial preparations? And Christmas is no longer the same when man replaces God as the main character!
May we prepare ourselves as Christmas is coming!
(Note: the author is a guest contributor to China Christian Daily and a preacher from Henan, central China.)
Original Article: Are You ‘Really’ Ready For Christmas? (China Christian Daily)
Edited and reposted with permission.
Image Credit: Kyle Taylor via Flickr.
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