I was saddened along with so many others this week as we witnessed the horrific situation unfolding in Sydney, hostages held and two killed. Then in the same week, 132 children tragically massacred in Pakistan.
This is frightening and disturbing any time of the year, let alone at Christmas.
The rawness of life and death draws you towards issues of substance, humanity, faith and meaning like little else.
I wonder what your reflections over the past week produced in you? We all felt something. Was it fear, hope, compassion, hate?
Could it be possible that we produce in our life the fruit of what or who we worship?
If the object of our worship is materialism, selfishness, or an angry, vengeful god, then we don’t need to look much further to find that fruit outworked.
However, if we truly know God, we find ourselves familiar with a loving, peaceful and kind divinity and in the same way, that will bear fruit in our lives.
If the fruit of your faith produces fear in you or others, then I would suggest it is not a faith that promotes the heart of God towards humanity.
Christmas reveals to us a facet of who God is! When we refer to Christ as “Emmanuel”, it means “God with us.”
Jesus came to us as depicted in the Christmas story to reveal to humanity who God is.
The Good News in a nutshell is this, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for ALL the people.” (Luke 2:10).
There’s no question the message that God sends to us through His Son Jesus is one of peace on earth and goodwill towards ALL humanity.
Jesus talked about love, but more importantly reveals the power of that love in our lives. He exhibited that love by forgiving His own enemies even as He was hung on a cross. It was personal.
The promise of Jesus and message of Christmas is both universal and personal.
In knowing Him and in turn, being like Him, our personal responsibility is to love and be peacemakers.
Peace between man and God is the primary reason for Jesus coming to earth: not fear, not hate, not selfishness.
The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear. So the answer to fear and the presence of peace is the love that comes from God.
When social media shared the phrase “I’ll ride with you” this week, I believe it reflected the heart of the God I know.
No cultural or religious divide can separate a man or woman from God’s love, and in knowing God, nor will it separate another from mine.
This has to be the message that resounds loud and clear to a world that is at times held in the grip of fear: “God loves you and so do I”.
I don’t think we can hear it enough. I don’t think we can demonstrate it enough.
What is your response to God’s love this Christmas?
Let me also take this opportunity in wishing all my readers across 106 countries a very happy, joyful and safe Christmas.
If you have suffered loss this past season, in your tears and grief may you find the ever-present comfort of God. My prayers are with you.
And if you’re looking for a Church to celebrate Christmas, I can recommend mine – visit www.hillsong.com/christmas for service times.