Do You Want More This Christmas?
A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.
20th December 2013
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We are a society that wants more. More money, more gadgets, more food, more fun. But strangely, wanting more often leaves us feeling dissatisfied. We finally get the thing we longed for, and yet all too soon it is broken, or the batteries have run down or it isn’t as good as we hoped.
Does Christmas sometimes leave you feeling this way? After all the fun and pleasure of catching up with old friends and seeing the family, and eating to excess and sleeping it off; after taking the holiday, and watching the cricket, and reading the new book—after all that you’ve looked forward to, are you left wondering if that’s all there is, until next year?
The angel told Joseph about something much, much more. He spoke about “Jesus” who “will save his people from their sins”. This is the message that changed the world forever - not only the ancient world but also the lives of countless millions down the centuries and across nations today.
Every year more people discover how much more Christmas can be to them, as they meet Jesus – the man who saves his people from their sins. Every year as more people become his, they discover the joy of sins forgiven, a fresh start in life, and the reality of eternal life.
Have you made this wonderful discovery? Have you got more out of Christmas?
It’s not very difficult – in fact, it is so simple many people find it hard to believe. They expect that being ‘saved by Jesus’ involves some difficult spiritual exercise, or undertaking some new year’s resolution, or conquering their lifetime of in-built habits, or changing their personality. But Jesus doesn’t save us from our personality; he saves us from our sins.
How do we meet Jesus? How are we saved by Jesus? It’s as simple as talking to God, and asking him to deal with the sin in our life.
It’s a basic prayer that goes something like this:
I know that I am not worthy to be accepted by you.
I don't deserve your gift of eternal life.
I am guilty of rebelling against you and ignoring you.
I need forgiveness.
Thank you for sending your son to die for me
that I may be forgiven.
Thank you that he rose from the dead
to give me new life.
Please forgive me and change me,
that I may live with Jesus as my ruler. Amen
These precise words are not the key. It is genuinely praying something like this that will bring us into relationship with Jesus. There are three paragraphs to the prayer.
The first one acknowledges our sins. We cannot be saved from them if we will not even acknowledge them. As long as we think we don’t need a saviour we won’t have a saviour. The first step in finding our Saviour is to acknowledge the sin that he saves us from.
The second paragraph thanks God for what he has done for us in sending Jesus, for Jesus came into the world to save sinners by his death and resurrection. By his death he paid the penalty for our sins that we may be forgiven. And more than that, by his resurrection he has become the Lord of everything, including life and death. He is able to grant us a life that lasts forever because he is the Lord of all.
The last paragraph is the prayer of the prayer – it’s what we are really asking for. We have sinned and Jesus has paid for our sin, and so we ask to be forgiven of our sins. We don’t deserve eternal life and Jesus has risen again to give us new life, and so we ask for this new life. But it is not the same as the old life – now instead of ignoring or rejecting God we live with Jesus as our Saviour and Lord.
If this is your prayer, I’m sure that God will forgive you and a give you new life. For his Son died and rose again so that we would have the very thing we are asking for.
If this is yours this Christmas, then you will get much more than the usual fare of happy times – you will get more than celebrating the birth of our Lord. If this is yours this Christmas, then you will get your own birth – a rebirth – not simply to life, but to a new life that lasts forever.
Now that is getting something more this Christmas.