"So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds." Luke 2:16-18
Christmas is not officially celebrated at our home until we have gathered our girls around the Yuletide TV and watched the Frank Capra classic, "It's a Wonderful Life." We love to watch Jimmy Stewart's portrayal of a man who comes to the end of his rope, and turns to God for a solution. Don't swallow everything that is served from the screen. Just like fish, eat the meat and spit out the bones. Angels aren't accurately portrayed, but from beginning to end, the movie provides an image of the power of persistent prayer. Take time to watch an uncut version of this film and you will see as positive a presentation of prayer as Hollywood has ever produced. The title says it all. Life and wonder are meant to be two sides of the same coin.
People long for wonder in their lives. When God sent forth His son to be born of a virgin, He did not mean for His children to create a celebration that would smother the Child in wrapping paper. The shepherds set the standard for contemporary Christ followers. Luke's account says, "They made known the statement which had been told to them about this Child." Simple statements about the purpose of the birth of Jesus can go a long way to introducing people to the wonderful life God has in store for them. Jesus said, 'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) This Christmas make sure you don't rob people from hearing how they can receive God's greatest gift...JESUS!
A witness is someone who tells people about what Jesus has done in their lives and leaves the results up to God. The Bible says, "...all those who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds." (Luke 2:17b-18) All the people who heard the shepherd's story may not have believed it, but they were amazed by it. Everyone who hears the Christmas story today will not believe it. Whether they believe it or not, the story should not be watered down. When we tinker with the message it becomes a wonderless mush of maudlin sentimentality and mind-numbing "to do" lists.
What is wonder? It is the invasion of heaven into the heart of man. It is an encounter of the miraculous with the mundane. Wonder releases the self-absorbed cynic from the prison bars of his soul. Perpetual and pointless navel gazing is replaced by a childlike awe at the hand of God at work in his life.
People who are prone to wander are usually searching for wonder. The world always offers a lure that looks better than the real thing: entertainment for joy, money for peace, lust for love. The lure looks very inviting because the hooks are hidden from view. Male PMS has been described as an obsession with power, money and sex. Trolling for a wonderful life in these waters is dangerous. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Money cannot buy class,, and looking for love in all the wrong places leads to disastrous results. Men who have it all, usually lose it all because they find that life has no meaning at all...without Jesus. Two words: Tiger Woods.
There is a hunger in the lives of people at this special time of the year. Their hearts yearn for a life that is filled with the same kind of jaw dropping wonder that people had when they first heard about the birth of Jesus. The real Christmas story has always scratched an itch for wonder in the lives of those who hear it. When the story edits out the death, burial and the resurrection of Jesus, His birth loses its worth. He did not come to earth to establish a birthday celebration. His mission was to commission God's children to make disciples, not to make merry. Dumbing down the original message robs people of the wonder that God wants his children to have in their lives. People are watching your life and looking for the difference only Jesus can make. Never lose the child like wonder and awe at the love of God for you. Remember, God's Perfect Gift was not sent to you because you deserved a Savior, but because you needed one. That's why it is called amazing grace. Pretty wonderful, huh? If you have grown calloused handling the holy, tell someone about the love God as for them through His Son, Jesus. They may not believe the Christmas story, but they will be amazed by it. It will soften your heart and your hands, and you will wonder at the warmth of God's love for you, all over again.
"The world will never believe in a religion in which there is no supernatural power. A rationalized faith, a socialized church, and a moralized gospel my gain applause, but they awaken no conviction and win no converts." Samuel Chadwick
The wonderful life begins with the wonder of Jesus. Go tell it on the mountain!