Think

The Christmas Story and Christian Outreach

Dec 2015    

Over the years we have witnessed relentless attempts, both blatant and subtle, to change the Christmas story for a revisionist world bent on taking political-correctness to the extreme. Despite such attempts, faithful Christians following the teachings of the church know that Christmas is about God reaching out in love to the world and offering His precious gift of salvation in and through Jesus Christ. No matter what the world may try to say or to subvert the Christmas story, the plain message of Christmas is still best summed up in the verse which most Christians would be familiar with – John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

 

The attempts to rebrand the Christmas story is perhaps an indication of the failure of the world to appreciate that the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ is a simple and yet profound action of God, when Jesus became “flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14a). Christians who appreciate this Good News know that it makes no sense and it is nonsense to speak of “Season’s Greetings” when celebrating Christmas. Talking about “Season’s Greetings” when the celebration is about the birth of Christ is as meaningless and offensive as wishing our Muslim friends “Happy Holiday” for “Selamat Hari Raya Idilfitri.”

 

What does it mean then to say that the Christmas story is both simple and profound?

 

It is simple because it is easy to understand. We have a Heavenly Father who cares for our eternal well-being. It is profound because it affirms the depth of a rich theological truth that God the Creator took the initiative to reach out to the created beings.

 

Christmas tells the story of God’s incomparable love for the whole world when Jesus, without regard for His personal interest, entered the physical world from a position of power to an ordinary life as the son of a carpenter; from His majestic throne to be a servant; and from the splendour of heaven to offering His life as a sacrifice with His offer of life eternal. This is the Christmas story. It is beautifully composed by Paul in Philippians 2:5-11.

 

But that is not all. Christmas must stir in every Christian an appropriate response to God’s saving grace. It invites us to share God’s love with others through an all-season participation in evangelism, mission and Christian outreach. If you look carefully, Christmas provides a pedagogical model for a Christ-centred outreach to others when we learn to consider less about position, power and privilege to take on the sometimes less glamourous but often satisfying task of pointing people to God; when we consider self-interest less and think more of the interest of others as we reach out to them in the name of Christ; and when we avail ourselves to serve as faithful servants of God without thinking too much about what we may get in return.

 

Forget about “Season’s Greetings.” Have a “Blessed Christmas” celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the message we should share with the world.

 

Rejoice, for “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11, ESV).

 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

 

Picture by AnnekaS/Bigstock.com

The Rev Dr Daniel Koh Kah Soo is Pastor at Christalite Methodist Chapel, a lecturer at Trinity Theological College and the Chairperson of the Methodist Welfare Services.

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