fighting over presentsOn Christmas, most of us will gather with family or friends, exchange presents, watch kids tear through wrapped boxes in record time, and eat way too much food. Others will be faced with loneliness, health or financial issues, a broken family, and some will consider suicide.

But it’s “the most wonderful time of the year,” right?

The truth is even Christians don’t always feel joy and peace in this world or with other people. In fact, conflict often seems to be the norm. This temporary world is not our home as our citizenship is in Heaven (Phil. 3:20) and we truly are just passing through. But why does peace seem so elusive, even during Christmastime?

Isn’t there supposed to be “peace on earth”? What did the angels mean when they appeared to the shepherds praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:14

The only true peace we can have – on this earth – is by doing God’s will and pleasing Him. This requires faith (Hebrews 11:6) because only through the shed blood of Christ on the cross can we find forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace with God. This however, doesn’t mean we will have peace with people.

Jesus said,

Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; (Luke 12:51)… “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:32-34)

The world is divided over Jesus. A baby in a feeding trough called a “manger” is not confrontational or threatening. But that baby born in Bethlehem of Judea grew up and declared that He is the Truth and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

Lots of folks would have preferred that Jesus remain an infant because at Christmas, the world can look at the baby Jesus on a bale of hay and think, ‘how cute,’ and then go on living however they want with no thought of the future. Millions of people say they’re happy and at peace without God, but Jesus also said “whoever is not for Me is against Me,” and He confronts that which is not based on a personal relationship with Him.

But how do we reconcile the angel’s proclamation of peace with what Jesus said?

…The babe of Bethlehem was born a Savior to give to men all that they need. He has been replaced by a huckster named Santa Claus…”

If you find yourself getting too busy, rushing around buying things, overwhelmed with preparations or piling up credit card debt, stop! Cancel your Christmas traditions and worship Jesus. Sadly, Christmas is the only time many people forget to invite the guest of honor to His own birthday celebration!

He [Jesus] is precious to us who are saved, but offensive to the world; so much so they avoid any reminders of God, their sin, judgment, and accountability.

The hostility toward Christians escalates almost daily it seems, and this time of year, ongoing efforts to remove nativity scenes from public places continue. Due to people claiming to be offended, many Christmas carols are now prohibited in public schools and other places, and atheists keep placing billboards attacking our faith. Some department stores and websites avoid using the word Christmas.

…Pastor Greg Laurie wrote about the conflict of Christmas reminding us of the spiritual warfare going on all around us…

One of the unexpected passages in the Bible that deals with the subject of Christmas is found in Revelation 12, where we have the picture of a woman being pursued by a powerful dragon who seeks her death. As she is preparing to give birth to a child, the dragon hovers over her, wanting to destroy the baby. The woman is a picture of Israel, the child is Jesus Christ, and the dragon is Satan.

Described in verse five is the male child “who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.” There may not necessarily be a culture war, but there sure is a spiritual war going on. For those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus, the devil (dragon) is at war with us (Revelation 12:17).

This baby would be surrounded by controversy and upheaval.

…And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:33-35

In order for us to be adopted into the family of God, Jesus, “born of a woman, born under the law” was sent here on a rescue mission to redeem us at the perfect time (Galatians 4:4-5).

A strange way to save the world? Perhaps; but it was God’s plan all along!

Opposition is guaranteed; salvation is not; someone once said that the hinge of history is on the door of Bethlehem’s stable.

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from manger to cross