This is the time, when concerns over that gift, the one to bring that perfect smile to someones face can become such a heavy burden. We put so much pressure on it, we hope it will sweep away all of life’s stresses, even for a little while, on Christmas morning.
Things are a little different this year, but usually, so many people are bustling about clamouring for that super deal, fully aware the bills are piling up in the background. Much of this will be online this year, in the “developed world.” The consciousness of credit card bills or layaway plans to pay down in the New Year, in the back of our minds, washes over what we know should really be such a time of wonder in the heart of this season.
So where’s the peace, the nurture, the quietness of soul and the Love which is the intention of this holiday? Why is it so hard to find for so many? We live in a time and a society full of affluence, and even in this period of covid 19 influences, there is, available to us, sooo much. Where does this saturated experience of Love come from? And by that what do we mean by Love? We find instances here and there, in the best of times, where it’s interruptions seem to hold back the heaviness of our lives, giving us moments, or even a single moment, of reprieve from our preoccupation and concerns. We spend our lives secretly yearning to find ourselves touched with that same sense of insulating Love on an ongoing basis. We work to prepare what we feel is the perfect relationship or environment, thinking ‘Maybe this Christmas that warm glow will rise and stay in my heart.’
In great contrast, many have become disenfranchised by the poverty, sickness and pain experienced by those in third world conditions and so shake an inward fist at a God who is supposed to be that Love. How can a God of Love let such things happen we protest in determined disbelief. Well, I’d like to point out an interesting dichotomy, a contradiction common in our understanding of this truth. I’ve gone through this inward dilemma before myself, and here’s what I came to see.
We ask, why can’t a God of Love just fix all the problems in this world? I mean can’t He just wave His hands over it all and make it all good, after all He is God! Let’s take a look at it.
Firstly, we have the issue of who God is not. He is not a magical genie who is here to grant your every wish, or do what you think is the way to do things. He is not Santa Clause come to reward those who are good and deprive those who are not! There are natural consequences for actions, and a good parent would help their child to understand this reasoning. If a child continually does harm to themselves, a good parent would eventually let the consequences happen, so a child would gain the instruction to change the impulses they follow.
In a family, a parent has to train each child differently because each child IS different. However, sometimes in extreme circumstances, a whole family suffers until the one child becomes inwardly aware they need to change their tune or life will remain confusing and hard. If a parent always waved their magic credit card, or social influence, and continued to pull the child out of the cause and effect cycle, the child would remain utterly incapable of self-awareness. Instead there would remain only ego and self-indulgence. Today indulgence is rampant! This would lead to all others around continually having to endure the results of their siblings selfish unchecked nature. Sounds like the problems in the family of man to me.
Secondly, we may ask, well why doesn’t a good God just fix the problem inside people if they are so bad? This goes to the heart of the issue of free will. We want God to fix all our problems when most of them are fall out from the problem within us collectively. In order to fix this problem collectively He needs to fix it on an individual basis. Here’s the rub, like in the movie Bruce Almighty, if each persons issues were solved according to what they thought they needed these answers would interfere with the results in someone else’s life. So who’s more important?
Well the real answer is not about greater importance, but about a similar inward problem. The problem of sin, which expresses itself by causing much of the pain in this world. Sin thought it had God check mated when, people wanted God’s help but didn’t want the problem within them taken control of. They claimed God would be dominating them then. So Christ came to remove that inward infection and take it on himself. He then died as a result of the necessary judgment of the destruction of sin’s power over each of us, so we were spared that effect. And because His life was greater then the power of death, he was able to rise in newness of life, beyond the ravages of sin, and offer that to us. He loves this selfless stuff!
Up until covid, very many people who got angry about the pain in this world were doing so while pointing to other’s pain in the undeveloped world, and using it to justify their hardheartedness toward the pain close by in the lives around. We’d put aside, “Love Thy Neighbour”, being preoccupied with the overwhelming task of helping the poor. Because of this many stop caring, and as the Bible puts it, “the love of may will wax cold.”
My daughter recently shared with me, in many eastern countries, where war, famine and real pain is a daily occurrence, anger at God for these conditions rarely is thought of. Instead they look to God with Hope even amidst their struggle. They recognize the condition within the heart of mankind and are not surprised by it, as they are not insulated from the reality. We however, would rather shake a fist at injustice far away and not move ourselves to become an agent of God’s Love in the lives close by.
Interestingly, during this covid time, many more people have been reaching out to others to make sure we are all taken care of. Whether they realize it or not, it is a Loving God nudging the heart of people to let Him show himself through them today. Instead of being preoccupied by others pain they have chosen to be occupied by God’s Love. This is God answering that question of how He fixes things. A paraphrase of the Bible say’s. “It is in the giving you will receive,” and if you give genuinely, not preoccupied with the injustice in life, but justly being a vessel of kindness, then God’s Love can finally have it’s way.
I can guarantee anyone, if they begin to reach out to the needs around, through responsible acts, like developing true friendship with someone in need, some of that warmth, that Love your heart is looking for, will rub off. You could even try putting aside a certain percentage of your wages each day to give money to charities who DO reach out to those in need in our own society, The more a person shares this way the brighter life becomes and the more they are willing to widen their efforts. Let’s put a gift in Christ’s stocking this Christmas and Love someone who can’t return it, without letting them know. If we all did this, then have no fear, those further out will be blessed the same way by their neighbours as well.
Happy Contagious Christmas and Thanksgiving Season!