Separated by a River. Christmas Jubilation, Part 1

Separated by a River. Christmas Jubilation, Part 1


The North Sea River separating us

"Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another." John 13:34b (MSG)

Christmas is all about genuine love. We give presents to people we love. We feast with our loved ones. We share stories from the past and we have a good laugh.

It is easy to love those who love us. Unfortunately, it's much harder to love our arch enemies! Still we are encouraged to accept Jesus' challenge: "I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer." Matthew 5:44 (MSG)

During Christmas, we have an opportunity to set things right. Invite your enemies to your home and welcome them with open arms. They will be quite surprised. Even those enemies who decline your invitation will be left wondering, and some seeds towards improving your relationship will have been sown. Christmas is, after all, all about love, not hate! Jesus came to earth so that we could experience what true forgiveness looks like!

There is another category of people who deserve love as well: the poor. None of them have the means to buy gifts for their loved ones. Imagine inviting them in your home and welcoming them open arms. Your home will feel more festive, and these poor ones will experience what real love looks like. We are urged, after all, that: "The only additional thing they asked was that we remember the poor, and I was already eager to do that." Galatians 2:10 (MSG)

Christmas will become grandiose if we follow in the footsteps of Jesus: "If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you'll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment's notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me." John 12:26 (MSG)

"Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me-you did it to me.'" Matthew 25:40 (MSG)

While we were visiting Cap-Blanc-Nez, nearby Boulogne-Sur-Mer in France, we ventured out onto the beach. We wanted to take a picture of the beautiful cliffs from the waterfront, and to do so, we would have to go way out onto the sand. Fortunately for us, the tide was out; it was windy, however, and the North Sea had produced some rivers of water in the sand. In fact, there was more wet sand than dry. We challenged ourselves to try and stay dry without needing to take off our shoes, and this proved to be a challenge that was difficult to accomplish. Eventually I became separated from my wife. She crossed the "North Sea River" at a spot that was just a little too wide for me. Unfortunately, it was the narrowest spot! We tried for over half-an-hour to once again find ourselves on the same side of the "River" before we finally experienced success.

In life, there will always be things that hinder us from showing that genuine love that comes from our Heavenly Father. Remember how the Pharisees and Sadducees mocked Jesus when He healed the needy ones? Remember how this didn't stop Him from continuing to show them love?

And it should not stop us either!

Those rivers of adversity may look quite wide, but may we always remember that: "The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1John 4:4b, NIV2) God will help us jump over these wide rivers, and if we put our trust in Him, nothing will stop us from experiencing genuine love, the same love Jesus showed to the early Christians: "While they were praying, the place where they were meeting trembled and shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God's Word with fearless confidence." Acts 4:31 (MSG)

When we let our Heavenly Father be our guide, nothing will stop us. We will demonstrate, with fearless determination, what Christmas truly is all about!

Merry Christmas, by the way!

Rob Chaffart

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