December 17, 2011 in Features

Bell ringers help remind us of the message of Christmas

SteveMassey
 

I’m grateful for those bell ringers.

They really get me thinking.

Salvation Army bell ringers invite us each year to face need with generosity, sacrifice and gladness.

And giving to meet real need is an echo of God’s own choice to reach into human suffering with generosity, sacrifice and gladness. This is the message of Christmas.

Consider the wonder of God’s generosity: Eternal God was born a man in a backwater town called Bethlehem in Israel. Jesus, eternal God who came to live among people, was placed in an animal’s feeding trough, raised by poor parents.

Why would God do such a thing?

Angels announced God’s purpose to Joseph before the Christ Child was born: “You are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins,” (Matthew 1:21 – NLT).

God’s generosity is too marvelous for words. He came to bring peace between himself and sinful people – all of us – through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. That precious baby in the manger was born to die – for you and me.

Consider the wonder of God’s sacrifice: The Scripture says Jesus set aside the glory of heaven. He agreed to live among people He created, to be unrecognized as God, and then to be disregarded, ridiculed and put to death on a cross.

“Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges,” Philippians 2:6-8 tells us. “He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself … and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

God is neither indifferent nor stingy in the face of our greatest need – to have our sins forgiven. He did not look away from us the way we sometimes look away from those bell ringers, indifferent to, or weary of, the need around us.

No, God looks fully into our need with immeasurable generosity and sacrifice.

It is possible, I suppose, to give generously, even sacrificially, yet still harbor a heart of displeasure. Just think of our own attitudes at times when we’ve been greeted by our fourth or fifth bell ringer in a day.

Such displeasure is not the case with our God. He gives salvation joyously, not begrudgingly.

Consider the wonder of His gladness: Angels announced Christ’s birth declaring “good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” (Luke 2:10 – NKJV). It is God’s great joy to offer us rescue from sin, and eternal life in heaven.

God’s gladness rings out each time his gift is received. Jesus said there is “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents” and receives Him as Savior.

Have you received him?

For a few more days, those bells will ring for all to hear. May we give generously, sacrificially and gladly to meet the earthly needs of those who suffer.

But may the joyful ringing also remind us of a gift infinitely more needful and precious; the gift of Jesus – given so generously, sacrificially, gladly.

Like I said, I’m grateful for those bell ringers. They really get me thinking.

Steve Massey is the pastor of Hayden Bible Church in Hayden, Idaho (www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.


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