by Richard Mansel
An exhausted Dad on Christmas Eve found the perfect gift for his little baby girl and stilled his frayed nerves as the clerk finished wrapping the burgundy box. The crowd pressed against him as he took the parcel and exited the mob scene. Soon he would see her eyes brighten with joy at his gift. It made the terrible ordeal of shopping worth the abuse.
The morning came and the clumsy fingers of his daughter tore at the beautiful paper and bow. Squealing, she opened the box, removed the expensive gift and put the box on her head. In her innocence, she had eyes only for the box, while the gift was lost in the clutter.
God must feel like that Dad as people dabble in religion, invigorated by the box while the gift is forgotten. Christianity without Christ and the Bible has become the new vogue.
In John 6:1ff, Jesus fed the multitude with five barley loaves and two small fish. Afterwards, Jesus dismissed the crowd. The next day they came back to Jesus for more bread and miracles (6:30,31). Jesus offered them spiritual bread and they misunderstood his intentions. When Jesus explained further they “went back and walked with Him no more” (6:66, NKJV).
They wanted Christ for the wrong reasons. They wanted pleasure and entertainment rather than the salvation Christ offered. Jesus rebuffed their insults and let them walk away. He had more serious work to do. His offering is the world’s most valuable gift and only those ready to receive it will be blessed (Ephesians 2:8,9; Hebrews 4:16).
People come to Jesus for temporary fixes rather than the rebirth and reformation required of a child of God (John 3:3-5). People come to God to ease turmoil in their hearts and lives. When the problem is fixed, Christ is forgotten. They want the medicine, not the doctor.
Pain management is one of the greatest challenges in the medical field. Pain, though, is not the problem, but the symptom. When it is treated as the former, people fail to get well. Instead, we must address the real problem. Sin is the illness and the blood of Christ is the only cure (Romans 5:6-11). Jesus is the Great Physician, but he does not simply dispense prescriptions. He cures problems by focusing on the sin and hollowness of a sinful life (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus prescribes a lifetime regimen that is difficult and consuming and few will accept the challenge (Matthew 7:13,14).
For example, the worship of angels is an ancient practice (Colossians 2:18). It has an appeal to those who would play with the box and discard the gift. The worship of angels provides the comfort and exhilaration of religion without the complications of commandments. Angels appear to ask nothing of us, so they provide a very enticing opportunity for those who wish to remain in their sinful life, appear righteous and enjoy the thrill of spirituality.
Jesus offers spiritual life and discipleship. He calls us to take up our cross, which is too difficult for many to bear (Matthew 16:24-26). Jesus cannot be separated from the Bible, Church, Doctrine and God. Jesus will be King of our life or he will be a stranger to us (Matthew 7:21-23).
As we approach the new year, please take Christ and discard the box. Jesus calls us to repentance (Acts 2:38). Please accept his invitation.
by Richard Mansel