“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom His favour rests.”
Luke 2:14 (NIV)
One wonders how long more such words of blessing will be heard. Already in some countries, “Happy Holidays!” has become the standard greeting. In those places, saying “Merry Christmas” to someone who is not a Christian can cause affront and be seen as a challenge to their religious freedom. Who knows how much longer it will be before our Lord Jesus Christ is replaced as the key reason for the celebration of Christmas, in a world so steeped in consumerism and political correctness?
Let us not forget that Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ – His coming to earth. When the angels came to announce the great news about Jesus’ birth, they elected to do so to shepherds out on the plains in Bethlehem, and not to the wider citizenry at Jerusalem. Were they trying to tell us that only the simple and pure can see the Lord? Perhaps this is what Jesus Christ meant when He said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
During this time of the year, we see pictures of a sweetly smiling, or peacefully sleeping baby Jesus, in Christmas cards and shop windows. Yet today, that peace seems elusive.
Today, Christians face opposition from all directions. The opposition is not only to the message of the Gospel, but also to Christian presence and influence in everyday life and at various social strata. Christian values and principles are often considered as conservative, and obstacles to social liberalisation and progress.
Christmas to us has always been a time for family and warmth, a serene and peaceful celebration. It heralds hope, joy, peace, and love. It is a time for reconciliation, to forgive one another and restore relationships, and to break down walls and mend bridges. Our hearts are to be filled with goodwill towards one and all.
Therefore, take every opportunity to wish “Merry Christmas” to anyone who crosses your path today. Mankind is in desperate need of the Saviour who came down from heaven and was born in Bethlehem. Looking at peaceful pictures of a sleeping baby Jesus sometimes makes us forget the pain and suffering He would subsequently go through, to bring us eternal peace and a right standing with God.
In this Christmas season, let us listen to the songs of the angels, and pray: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14, KJV)
Bishop Dr Chong Chin Chung –
was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2016. He served as President of the Chinese Annual Conference for two quadrennia from 2008 to 2016.
Picture by AnnekaS/Bigstock.com