Merry Christmas everyone! And in fitting with the joyous season, let's go see what is essentially a live action/animation horror film whose characters come across like wax zombies and scar you for life more than Chuck-E-Cheese band performers!
I'm talking of course about Disney's A Christmas Carol. A timeless story that has been Disney-fied to the brim and is sure to draw millions of viewers.
Be warned…this one's not for the kiddies, but for all the visual fireworks and occasional inexplicable sequences (like Scrooge being reduced to one inch complete with a mouse voice?), it stays true to Charles Dickens' vision for the story.
If you are unfamiliar with this classic, A Christmas Carol chronicles the events of a night before Christmas in the life of one of the biggest jerks in all of literature: Ebenezer Scrooge. He is visited by his dead former business partner, then three ghosts from his past, present, and future Christmases – they all come with a message and a warning. The heart of their message is basically "Stop being a hater," and their warning is "If you don't, your eternal afterlife is pretty much the worst situation you could imagine."
In other words, "Scrooge, you better rediscover your soul or there will be horrible consequences."
Can I take you on a similar journey? With my apologies to Charles Dickens, I'd like us to look at three Christmases as well. The first is Christmas Past…in fact, it's the first Christmas ever. Picture the scene as we travel back through 2000 years:
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him (Luke 2:8-14).
As we're standing at this scene, I have to ask you…
Is Jesus your Savior? The first Christmas is a radical scene of angelic armies, overwhelmed shepherds, and exhausted parents. But even more drastic is the fact that God wrapped Himself in flesh and was born of a virgin so He could bring salvation to this dark and sinful world - which includes you and me. Let this scene remind you that the God who created you loves you so much that He chose to die rather than live without you.
Which brings me to Christmas Present. We are surrounded by people who do not know Jesus as their Savior and think this holiday is about ribbons, tags, packages, boxes, and bags (shout out to The Grinch!). They get so mired in the glitter and material that they miss the truth that Christmas is a time to be reminded that salvation is available for all who call on the name of Jesus.
And look! There's you with your friends at a Christmas party. I can see your lips moving but I can't hear what you're saying. It looks like you're starting a conversation about Jesus Christ and why He came to earth. That's awesome, because the message of the gospel is the greatest gift you could give anyone.
Finally, let's look into Christmas Future. This is a very different Christmas, because it's not about the first time Jesus came to planet Earth, but the second time. This time, He is not a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger. Here's how John describes the scene:
Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven.
And everyone will see him-
even those who pierced him.
And all the nations of the world
will mourn for him. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, "Don't be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look - I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave (Revelation 1:7;13-15;17-18).
The ghost of Christmas future in A Christmas Carol is scary…
But the return of Christ is waaaay scarier. That is, if you don't know Him. So what will that scene really look like in your future? If you've trusted Christ, it will be a day of deliverance. If not, it will be a day of mourning.
So this Christmas, help your friends prepare for the last Christmas , when Jesus returns to earth to set up His forever Kingdom.
In the meantime…God bless us, everyone!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Don't waste the great opportunity God gives us every year to tell people about Jesus. There are tons of ways to bring Him into the conversation at Christmas, but the question is: will you? Pray each day for God to open the door for you to share the gospel with your friends. When an opportunity presents itself, be bold and take it!
Accelerant: Feed the Fire
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done" (Revelation 22:12).
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).