How to enjoy peace this Christmas
The following is an excerpt from Rico Tice's booklet 'So this is Christmas', by The Good Book Company
There are two great things about being a pastor at Christmastime. The first is that you get lots of presents, including some hilarious ones. One year, someone gave me a bright pink jumper. Another, someone gave me a dog bowl. (I don’t have a dog.)
The second is that you get to choose what you talk about at carol services and no one can stop you. So last year, I picked a Bible verse that sounds as if it has nothing to do with Christmas. I chose it because I think that in fact it has everything to do with Christmas. It’s this:
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)
If you want to experience peace this Christmas... if there’s a wall between you and someone else and you would love it to come down... you need to grasp this verse.
Christmas is a time of great joy and also of great reflection. It’s a time when the good things in life are seen clearest, but also when the walls and the regrets and the mistakes and unfulfilled hopes loom largest. So many of us can’t wait for Christmas, but others of us can’t wait to get through it. Most of us enjoy it and yet, at the same time, we have a tinge of sadness about some element of it—and often that sadness is caused by the knowledge that, to some extent and in one way or another, we’ve put up walls.
Maybe it’s a wall between a married couple who’ve stopped really talking to one another or listening to one another. Each is waiting for the other partner to change—then they’ll dismantle the wall (maybe).
Maybe it’s a wall between a parent and a child, where both feel let down or not listened to or unappreciated or unloved by the other.
Maybe it’s a wall between two old friends, where a forgotten birthday or a lack of phone calls or a shortage of sympathy at some point has seen everything go cold.
How can we change? How can this Christmas really be one of peace and love and joy?
Only if it’s a Christmas of forgiveness. And you get the power to forgive, and to ask others to forgive you, by seeing what God was doing the first Christmas, in the coming of Jesus.
“Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
So here are the three steps to taking down the walls.
1. You realise that actually Jesus really was born in Bethlehem
Christianity has historical clothes. It’s not based on a philosophy or a mantra or a feeling. It’s based on historical events. It happened in Bethlehem, in the town I finally stood in, after hours of queueing at the wall one Christmas Day. It happened, as the carol puts it, “once in royal David’s city”. Jesus really walked the roads of Israel, just as I did. He really did die on a cross—and, yes, he really did rise again from death.
And of course, this may be more than you’re willing to accept right now, because as you think about it you find it very hard to believe. Well, that’s good—what matters is to think about it, and to look into the evidence for these events. Please do! It may be stronger than you’ve been thinking. But for the moment, please read on—because seeing what effect it would have if this were all true will motivate you to find out if it really is true.
2. You realise the meaning of what happened in history
That Jesus came to help you, to save you and to change you. You understand that he was born because he loves you and that he died because he wants to forgive you.
3. You accept what you are being offered
Forgiveness from God and friendship with God. You say, “Yes, God, this is for me. This is what Christmas, and life, is going to be all about. I want to say to you, ‘My life, your rules’. I want to admit my sin, and to accept and enjoy your forgiveness. I want to be at peace with you, rather than at war with you.”
And so you walk through life knowing that the most important wall has come down; and that the most important Person in the universe loves you. You’re forgiven by the Lord, and now you’re in a position to begin to “forgive as the Lord forgave you”.
C.S. Lewis, who became a Christian in his thirties and went on to write the Narnia books, put it like this: “To be Christian means to forgive the indefensible in other people because God has forgiven the indefensible in you.”
In many ways, true Christianity looks like forgiveness.
If you want to find out more about this forgiveness on offer and the claims of Jesus Christ:
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