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Episode 091 | The Danger of the Manger

December 6th, 2017

Are Christians supposed to celebrate Christmas differently than the rest of the world? If so, how do we do that? And let’s be real, either way the holidays can be hard for some of us. What do you do when this time of year just isn’t good for you?

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This Week's Topics

8:47 - Is it OK to be regularly involved in two churches, and give a partial tithe to both?

Ultimately what you need to do is pick a church. If you’re involved in two churches you’re probably not involved to the level that you need to be at either. You need to be all in at the local church and that means serving, attending and giving. Church is not about hearing a speech, it’s about being part of a family. You really need to be concerned about the one church you’re serving. If God is leading you somewhere else then you need to be all-in there.

13:46 - In this week’s sermon you talked about how in John’s personal story about Jesus, he uses the “word” to tell us who Jesus really is. Why is this a significant starting point as we begin to think about Christmas?

Jesus is a historical person who was Jesus Christ of Nazareth. That’s who he was as a human being and in terms of prophecy he was the Christ. But John is telling us he’s even more than that. John is saying Jesus isn’t just the Messiah, he’s the cosmic king of the universe. The ‘word’ is this universal power that exists in and outside of creation. It was a ‘word’ in the Greek and Hebrew that everyone could understand as Jesus. Jesus is more than a historical figure, he existed before creation which is why it’s important to understand him as the ‘word’.

18:50 - You mentioned that the bible gives us the time/season or place Jesus was born. Could you help me comprehend the importance of Christmas as a Christian?

We don’t know what season Jesus was born. We know he was born in Judea in the city of Bethlehem in the time of King Herod. We know more about Jesus than any other historical figure. The New Testament doesn’t concern itself with the time of year. We should celebrate Christmas because of the coming of the Messiah. It’s great to celebrate around Christmas because non-Christians are already celebrating this holiday. It’s a great opportunity to talk about who God is. For the world it’s myth and legend but as Christians, Christmas is the reality of our Savior.

22:04 - Why doesn't our Christian culture celebrate the biblical holidays (feasts) that Jesus and early Christians celebrated? Doesn't it make sense to participate in and learn about things Jesus and our Judeo-Christian family was involved in?

Why would we celebrate the Jewish holidays? For example, the Day of Atonement is about seeking repentance and forgiveness from God for the year. We don’t do that, we seek forgiveness in God forever through Christ. Acts 15 settles the issue. You do not have to be Jewish to follow Jesus. If you are Jewish, continue celebrating those holidays and be around your Jewish friends because you want them to know Jesus. I would like people in our church to be Christian, not Jewish. We don’t need an unhealthy fascination with Judaism, we need to have a healthy and worshipful attitude of following Jesus. We need to devote ourselves to the things in the New Testament which are summarized in love God and love your neighbor. The only two things Christians are ordered to do in the scriptures are communion and baptism. There’s nothing wrong with those holidays but our focus should be on helping people follow Jesus.

31:12 - In what ways should the birth of Jesus change the way we celebrate Christmas?

In my family, we make sure that the focus of our Christmas is Jesus. Every tree ornament we have is about Jesus. Society is constantly trying to take your attention off Jesus so we need to work diligently to make sure that you remember that Christmas is all about God showing up to save us in when there was no other way. That’s why Jesus took on the form of a human servant and humbled himself to the point of death on the cross. And because of what Jesus Christ did, God raised him up and at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow; both on heaven and earth and in all creation. Make Christmas reflect his greatness in your life. The danger of the manger is making Jesus small.

37:25 - Luke talks about Jesus spending time in the temple as a 12 year old boy. At that time in his life, did Jesus know he was God? Did he always have the full attributes of God and knowledge of his future as the savior of the world?

The first debate was not about accepting Jesus as fully God, but in accepting him as fully human as well. How can he be both was the question. It’s like a three-legged foot race, you can only go as fast as the slowest person and in this case the slowest person is the human. At whatever rate the human capacity could absorb God, that’s the rate at which Jesus moved. He had to learn how to do all the things a normal child would do. He was tempted in every way we are yet he did not sin. He grew in his relationship with God as we do, but he was extraordinary. There’s a lot we don’t know.

42:57 - For many people, the holidays are tough. What are some ways that we can help or encourage those who are having a hard time this Christmas?

Make it about God as much as possible, because depression is often the result of self-fixation. Not always, but often. When we’re depressed we’re thinking about ourselves and our pain. One of the ways to change how we feel is to change what we’re focused on. And the best thing to focus on is Jesus, how amazing he is and what he did. We also have to alter our expectations. Mary and Joseph had a difficult Christmas with traveling and ultimately Jesus was born in a cave. Pay attention to the Christmas season and be thankful for who God is. Because this little baby is going to deal with all evil and win. We don’t have to be sad because we have faith in Jesus Christ and we have hope that he will make all things right.

46:32 - As a Christian, is it OK to let people go in your life even if they're family or close friends? What do you do when you have to see them at community events or family events?

First thing I would do is read the book “Boundaries” by Cloud and Townsend. This book will help you establish healthy boundaries. Jesus had healthy boundaries and healthy boundaries start with a healthy you. It’s important to never throw away relationships because we live in a culture that does that. But sometimes people are toxic and the best way to love them is from a distance. For example: an abusive family relationship is not something you should be a part of. That’s why we have the gift of spiritual family. We’re commanded to listen and come alongside you. The beauty of the church is that we get to be a part of these relationships because we get to be a part of Jesus. Jesus is concerned with our relationships.

50:55 - This question was discussed in our community group. How do you know if you've truly forgiven someone when you continue to feel hurt when seeing or interacting with them?

It depends on the level of the wound. We always need to be careful when we judge other people’s process in their journey of forgiveness. What we need look for is a willingness to work towards forgiveness and what that looks like. We live in a victim culture and some of us don’t want healing. We need to flesh out if we’re open to forgiveness. There’s a difference between forgiveness of the wound and reconciling a relationship. Forgiveness of the wound is entrusting the issue to God and freeing yourself from being the judge. We’re all commanded to forgive. We don’t, however, need to reconcile the relationship. If your spouse is a serial cheater, you can forgive them and get divorced. You don’t have to reconcile but you do need to forgive.

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