On the night of Jesus’ birth, angels appeared to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks. “Glory to God in the highest,” they proclaimed, “and on earth peace, good will toward men!” These days, many of us may think of peace and good will as rather abstract virtues. Nevertheless, they are the secret ingredient that give Christmas traditions their meaning.
When the life of a follower of Jesus is lived as Jesus intended it to be, it becomes a thing of beauty. Being a Christian and having a relationship with God should be something that permeates our daily experiences, is integrated into our decisions, and brings color to our perceptions of ourselves, others, and this life.
Oddly enough, whenever I’m at the dentist’s office, there always seems to be one of those home makeover shows playing on the TV in the waiting room. The sound is muted, but you can follow along in the closed captioning if you’re interested—not that the dialogue is particularly exciting.
My small elementary school had the most amazing gardener we all called “Uncle Silas.” He could make one of those “picture-book gardens” with tomatoes, beans, cabbage, and lettuce bursting out everywhere. The flowerbeds in front of the school were always an amazing range of colors, and he knew exactly which plants and flowers worked best for the different times of the year. He had years of experience, and he knew all the tricks of the trade.
I was standing in the checkout line at one of our local stores and noticed the lady ahead of me was wearing a brightly colored T-shirt with a Bible verse on it. Then when she thanked the cashier, she said, “Dear, I hope you know Jesus loves you!”
Today, while visiting a small town, I learned yet again that when God says “Jump,” I should ask, “How high?” He always knows best.
I walked past a shipping depot and almost bumped into a man struggling to load a large tire into his 4x4 truck. I chuckled and said, “Looks like you’re getting tired!” (Yes, I have a propensity for joking with puns, forgive me.) He laughed back, and I continued walking.
In John 13:35, Jesus says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”1 That doesn’t necessarily seem too hard, but for a word that we use so often, when you think about it, love is actually quite difficult to pin down. You understand it through actions. What would you be willing to do to show love to those around you?
As My Father sent Me, so send I you. I send you out into a world of hurt and loss, pain and suffering, heartbreak and loneliness, need and yearning, so you can give this lost and lonely world what I have given you. Freely give of My love, compassion, and understanding to those who need it so desperately.
One key element in our pursuit of Christlikeness is emulating the humility of Jesus. In the ancient world of the Greeks and Romans, humility was seen as a negative trait. It denoted a subservient attitude on the part of someone considered to be of a lower class. It was seen as a cowed attitude, one of self-belittlement or degradation. The honor-shame culture of that time exalted pride, and humility was seen as undesirable.
There have been lots of charismatic and visionary leaders and CEOs throughout history, but none of them come close to topping the world-changing importance of Jesus Christ. So what lessons can we learn from His example as a leader?