I think I’ve always believed; I can’t recall a time when I didn’t – or when I chose to begin – I just believe, it’s that simple. Everyone in my family believes, so believing was as natural as breathing.
While I know that believing means I need to keep my act clean, I’ve kind of determined that it really doesn’t matter much what I do, as long as I believe and as long as I am good when he is looking.
Oh yes, I know, he sees us all the time; he knows when we are sleeping and when we are awake. That’s why I try to be good, but I also know that as long as I’m not as bad as everyone else, I’m probably OK. Someone has to get all the good stuff, and he can’t give it to really bad people.
Nevertheless, I definitely don’t want to get on his naughty list! Oh no! The risk is too great… but then again, he loves me, and he is always good and when I apologize for falling short, he forgives me and I always seem to get what I want; he never really holds back on the gifts.
Wait, I’m confused, who are we talking about: God or Santa? Is there a difference? For some of us, there doesn’t seem to be and I wonder why? What were we taught? What have we believed?
As far as Santa goes, we believe because our moms and dads told us to believe. However, there comes a time, when, presented with the facts (which often means stumbling into a closet full of gifts) we must choose whether to believe in the facts or in the myth. Do you still hear the bells?
With God, we originally believe because our moms and dads told us to believe. However, there comes a time, when, presented with the facts (which means coming face to face with our sinful selves, and the abyss that separates us from our Holy God) we must choose whether to believe in the Gospel of salvation, or not. Has the voice of God fallen silent for you?
You may say, “I’ve always believed. There wasn’t a time when I didn’t believe.” Any demon can say the same thing, and demons have a visceral reaction to the reality of God; they tremble in terror (James 2:19). Do we? Do we fear God at all?
Being born into a family of believers does not certify us, or them, as Christian. Perhaps it prepares us for the moment of decision, but it doesn’t take the place of that decision. In order to become a Christian, we must take our belief, that which we have been taught, and which we hold to be true, and act upon it. We must decide to choose to believe: that is faith.
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen Hebrews 11:1. Faith is the settled assurance that we base our lives upon – that God is who he says he is, and that he will do what he says he will do. In order to know who God is, and what he says he will do, we must hear, read, and study God’s Word. However, that requires time, commitment, and energy.
The Apostle Paul warned us that a time is coming when most people are content to believe in a god that is little more than Santa. He said that people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear. They will reject the truth and follow strange myths (2 Timothy 4:3-5).
Religion that is based upon trying to be good, on cleaning up our act from the outside in, rather than striving to live a holy life to honor and glorify God through the power of the Holy Spirit working from the inside out, is, in fact, rejecting truth and following a strange myth.
When you choose to press in to learn who God is, and what he says he will do, then you must make a choice: Do you believe or not? If you choose to believe – then you stake your life on that belief. Living in faith means rooting your confidence in the character of God.
In that moment, when you make a mental choice to believe, you are given the right to become a child of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision, or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:12-13). You must be born again into the family of God, not merely born into a Christian family.
And, that naughty list – amazingly, God loved us while we were deeply imbedded in the naughty list! We can never earn our way off the list with good works. We cannot escape the naughty list on our own. Our only hope is that while we were still sinners, God demonstrated his own love for us in this: Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus’s blood alone washes away our sins and moves us from darkness into light.
God is real. He cares about you. He sees you. He loves you. He sent Jesus to die for you. Forgiveness may be a free gift to you, but it cost the cross for God. If you have not yet seen the heinousness of your sin, the holiness of God, and the abyss that separates you – perhaps you have not yet stumbled into the closet of reality.
Will you make this the Christmas that you truly believe? Will you confess your sin, acknowledge your helplessness to save yourself, ask Jesus to save you, and commit to live your life faithfully for him. Only then, will you be able to hear your Shepherd’s voice.
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