Thursday, December 13, 2007

christmas party talk

My favorite scripture to think about during Christmastime (or just about anytime really) is Phillipians 2:5-11 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore god has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This scripture gives us the bigger picture of what was happening that first Christmas. It gives us a glimpse of God’s plan to save the world.

Sometimes we can get frustrated by the progress of God’s plan to save the world. “If God is God,” we think, “the world should be saved by now.” So we think up better ways to help God’s plan of salvation to reach more people and convince more people to follow Jesus. Let me present to you two such plans:

First, everyone loves retreats and conferences, especially if they’re held at a cool venue. What cooler venue could there possibly be than heaven. They’ve got to have great accommodations: I’ve heard mention of mansions. They’ve got to have great food: I’ve heard mention of feasting. And they’ll have great music: I’ve never heard angels singing but I bet it’s impressive. So what better way could there be to convince people to follow God and accept his salvation than to take them to a conference in heaven. I was thinking at least give them a weekend to give them a taste of what’s to come if they sign up. So I recommend that GODcon 2008 be held in heaven. I think we’d see a lot more people coming to Jesus that way.

Secondly, scared straight programs seem to work wonders for more recalcitrant (bad) youth. Therefore I recommend that God implement a field trip to hell. Potential believers could be ushered down to the lake of fire to feel the heat from the ever-burning fires. For legal reasons I don’t suggest they actually endure torture but maybe one of the demons could demonstrate torture techniques on a current denizen of hell. This could really scare some people into believing in God and trusting in Him for their salvation.

But God didn’t do either of these things. Instead of bribing people with heaven or threatening them with hell, God came quietly, meekly, humbly to show how much he really cares about people. He came to experience the bad things we experience and to show us how to overcome. He came to be with us, to live with us and to walk with us. He came without all the trappings of glory and without all the threats of punishment so that he could see how we really felt about God.

If you’re wondering how you fit into God’s plan of salvation let me suggest one thing. Humble yourself. Don’t threaten God, he’s not trying to threaten you. Don’t try to buy God, he didn’t try to bribe you. Humble yourself before God. Try to imagine what life is like for God…and submit to him. How do you convince others to accept God’s plan of salvation? Instead of only trying to bribe non-Christians with empty promises that following God is only cool, fun, and happy… humble yourself before them. Because many times following God means suffering. Instead of trying to threaten people that they’re going to hell if they don’t shape up… humble yourself before them. Help people understand that God humbled himself for them by demonstrating it in your actions.

For me this means… listening to others opinions of me. Hearing people that are trying to give me advice. Honoring authorities over me even if I don’t like them. Trying to help people by trying to understand them on their own terms. Admitting weaknesses I have so that others can help me. Complimenting others instead of putting them down. Looking first to the interests of others rather than my own interests.