Our pastor and church have been delving into our Advent series theme “The Light Shines in the Darkness” the last four weeks. Sunday morning Pastor Dave spoke on the title “Responding to the Light.” If you’re familiar with Pastor Dave’s preaching, then you know his sermons consist of three main points. (I am particularly fond of this!) The three main points on Sunday regarding the theme of Responding to the Light (Jesus) were:
- Many will be oblivious to the Light of Christ. (John 1:9-10)
- Many will reject the Light of Christ. (John 1:11)
- Many will receive the Light of Christ. (John 1:12-13)
Obviously, this numbered list doesn’t give you the whole context of the sermon, and I’m only mentioning a few points that spoke particularly close to me. (You can listen to the Advent series online here: The Light Shines in the Darkness.) Pastor Dave elaborated on these points, as always, and illustrated the bigger picture. He stated, “For many people, Jesus does not fit into their Christmas celebration…for many people, the focus of Christmas is all about family and friends. For many people, Santa Claus is the central figure of Christmas.” Christmas is more about “gifts and good will.” Pastor continued, “For many people, Jesus remains in the shadows; a Christmas decoration and nothing more.”
I was struck by the truth of these statements. Of course, family and friends are important, and we should cherish the time we have with them, but when they become the central reason for celebrating and take precedence over Jesus, it’s time to re-focus. And if the only time we think about Jesus is at Christmas, then He has, indeed, simply become an ornament on the tree, a sparkly bulb to unwrap at the beginning of the season, only to pack back up at the end of it. Friends, Jesus isn’t seasonal.
Pastor Dave’s second point is hard truth: Many people today still openly reject Jesus. Pastor defined several ways in which this is true. One way is that “There are those who want a purely secular Christmas without Jesus.” Look no further than your local retail stores and shopping mall and you’ll see this is true. Secular greetings of “Happy Holidays” have long since replaced “Merry Christmas.” Moreover, a number of atheists have incited cities to institute ordinances where nativity scenes are no longer allowed.
Another way some have rejected Jesus: “There are those who want to replace Christmas with a winter solstice celebration.” There is a winter solstice celebration in my city this Thursday, in fact. While we are to rightly enjoy and care for the earth God created (and its creatures), we must be careful not to worship the created, but to worship the Creator.
I found those points to be the most obvious, but Pastor stated a few other ways in which people openly reject Christ: “There are many who want a form of spirituality devoid of Christ.” “There are some in the church who want a human Jesus but not a divine one.” “People reject Jesus because he is a threat to their power, position, and personal agenda.” I wonder if that’s not one of the biggest reasons people reject Christ. See, in order to place your faith in Christ as LORD and Savior, you have to bow the knee. You have to acknowledge that you aren’t ruler. You have to humble yourself and follow Jesus, doing His will and doing it His way.
The message of Advent has been, and will be, rejected by many, but Advent comes anyway. Jesus came as the Light of the world, and He continues to shine in the darkness. We have a choice, Friends. We can choose to hide in the darkness or step into the Light. Pastor Dave ended his sermon with the question I reiterate: “How will you respond to the Light?”