HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND MERRY CHRISTMAS

By Lisa Huddleston

I know I’ve written about this topic before–heck, I’ve been writing this blog for so long that I’ve probably written about just about everything–but I just can’t let it go without addressing it again.

What is IT? The over-hyped issue of saying “Merry Christmas.” Naturally, being a believer that God came to this planet as a baby wrapped in flesh his parents named Jesus, I do not have any problem with this greeting. But I do have a problem when others who also call themselves believers use the words to assault people who do not agree with them.

In case you’ve missed what I’m talking about (as if that is possible) here is an example of something I saw posted on social media recently:

They'll know we are Christians by our love?

They’ll know we are Christians by our love?

Wow! Nothing says, “Jesus loves you” like deliberately offending someone who doesn’t believe in Him anyway. I know, you think it’s your right to say, “Merry Christmas!” And, of course, it is.

But Jesus had more than a few things to say about putting our rights before the redemption of others. Things like “turn the other cheek” and “give him your cloak also.” And in writing about Jesus, the Apostle Paul said that Jesus, although equal to God himself, did not cling to his rights but rather poured them out so that we could be saved. Not to be served but to serve.

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). And I’ll try to do the same. Baruch haShem.

A PERFECT DOOR MAT

A perfect door mat.

A perfect door mat.

By Lisa Huddleston

Sometimes it’s easy to confuse words that we have heard repeated as truth with the “capital-T Truth” we read in the Bible. Today those truths collided as I listened to my pastor teach from the Gospel of Mark (9:30-50 to be exact.) His points were as follows:
1. True greatness is self-giving not self-aggrandizing.
2. Holiness doesn’t just happen: sin must be avoided at all cost.
And … there was probably a third point, but it somehow didn’t get recorded in my notes. However, that’s okay because it is the first point that I really needed to ponder today. Yeah–that nasty one about serving.

Honestly now, do you really like being a servant? I know there are some of you reading this who genuinely do enjoy serving others, and I am so thankful that there are people like you. But me, oh boy, not so much. Okay, there are definitely some times when I love to help others; but there are definitely times when I don’t, and it’s those “don’t” times that are really giving me trouble. And God surely has been giving me a lot of good practice in those “don’t” kinds of service opportunities lately.

It’s probably because I’ve been in that kind of a cycle that today’s sermon hit me so hard. I kept wanting to say, “Yes, but, Pastor Jim, you don’t know how hard it is to …” or “But I haven’t had any time to …” and so on. And that’s when my “truths” collided: “Sure, we need to serve others as Jesus did, but that doesn’t mean we have to be door mats.”

Really, Lisa? Where do you read that exception in the Scriptures? Jesus just took your sin on His innocent, holy self and died on the cross for you. So what’s your definition of a “door mat?”

Ugh. Yes, Jesus took it upon Himself to suffer and die in my place–He chose to do it, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t more difficult than I can ever imagine. Although He deserved all the glory, He took all the shame and derision instead. He came to serve rather than to be served, and that was exactly what He did.

AND He is my example! In spite of what nearly everyone says, maybe we are supposed to be door mats. Maybe we really are supposed to love others as ourselves, to turn the other cheek, truly to be salt and light in a decaying and darkened world. Yes! Truth hurts sometimes–especially when it crashes into my own self-centeredness–but that certainly doesn’t make it any less true.

Please, forgive me and help me, Lord, to serve as You serve–selflessly. Then, just maybe, I can become the same kind of door mat as You, one that proclaims, “Welcome!” to a hurting world.