24 Dec The View From There
What must He be thinking, from there? As He looks down on his beloved creation stuck in traffic, wrapping furiously, charging beyond their means, what does He think? Is He disappointed? Is He sad? Does anger burn within?
Does He look within us more than He looks at us, and does He see that the chaos our behavior shows only mirrors the chaos that our hearts cry?
More than $2 billion worldwide will be spent on wrapping paper this year. Wrapping paper. Millions of people are starving, going to bed without food, yet we celebrate the birth of the Bread of Life by spending billions on wrapping paper. It makes no sense.
He came to earth, the cause of our celebration, and said things like, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…” Yet we shop until the shelves are empty and our houses are full and our accounts are drained.
He said, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Yet we leave the orphans in their orphanages and the widows in their empty homes and stain ourselves with the merchandise being panned by the world.
He taught, and we ignore.
He taught, and we justify.
He taught, and we continue to do what we want anyway.
What, I wonder, will it take for His followers to obey? To remember that we celebrate the Sacrifice and that doing so does not require us to sacrifice months of paychecks?
Could we celebrate Christmas with not one gift inscribed with our name? Would Christmas still be Christmas without the parties and baking and shopping and wrapping? Would Christmas be even better if we said no to how the world insists it be celebrated?
What if every believer spent his Christmas budget on caring for the least of these? Spent money on the hungry and homeless and hurting instead of the hype? What if?
When we are urged to be aliens and strangers and to abstain from sinful desires, are times like these what Peter had in mind? Has the celebration of our Savior become sinful instead of sacred?
The Lord Himself says, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” Is it really that simple? Why do we complicate it so?
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”