P.E.A.R.s™ Periodic Encouragement And Reminders
“With Christmas, ‘Some Assembly is Required’”©
by Robert E. Alderman, Jr.
Sometimes, as we all know, the true meaning and purpose of Christmas gets lost in all the hustle and bustle that has become part of the Season. Whether it’s a hectic travel schedule, last minute gift shopping, family gatherings and big meals, extra work in season related businesses or other functions, our minds and hearts seem to forget the ultimate substance of this one-and-only-event in history.
It is not my goal in this article, however, to revisit that oversight. Rather, I want to share a few thoughts on a perspective of Christmas we may not have previously considered – even when we remember its significance.
The reminder is simply this, “With Christmas, ‘Some Assembly is Required’”.
I am not talking about “assembly” in the mechanical sense as with wagons, dollhouses, surround sound systems, computer components or anything else that comes from a store. Nevertheless, there are subsequent steps following the birth of Christ cumulating with the mystical union and indwelling of Jesus Christ that must be “assembled” before the fullness of the Christmas gift from God can be experienced in our lives.
A good illustration of this is how the complete context (past, present and future) of the phrase “peace on earth and good will toward men” is generally missing when the Christmas Story is shared today.
The result has been the development of a popular misconception that with the birth of Christ peace on earth and good will for all mankind somehow immediately blanketed the world and became available through an osmosis-like process. Such, however, is neither an accurate reading of what the verse says nor is it in line with the rest of the Bible.
A quick review of Luke 2:14 in several reliable Bible translations (i.e. the NIV, NAS, NLT and ESV) as well as commentary studies clearly establish that the angel’s proclamation of peace and good will did not infer instant application or a promise that the birth of Christ would be universal or standalone in nature. Instead, the identity of the would-be recipients was limited to those persons with whom God is pleased or upon whom His favor rests. Its application is also conditional on other propositions that must first occur.
Romans 5:1 is a verse in which this is made explicitly clear: Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. [NAS]. In other words, we don’t receive peace or any other fruits of the Spirit through osmosis with the birth of Christ, but only if and when we have been justified (reckoned as righteous) by acknowledging and receiving Jesus as our Savior and Lord – following His death and resurrection on our behalf.
If we read the entire historical account of Christmas and the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:1-16 and Matt 2:1-9 and follow the events that occurred thereafter, we emphatically find that the arrival of Christ into the world did not make life easy or did it generate peace and good will. In fact, what unfolded was just the opposite. The three magi or shepherds had to travel a long distance and search to find the new born king (see also Deut 4:29 and Matt 7:7) and in the process had to deal with the murderous schemes of Herod – who definitely wasn’t filled with peace and good will.
The underlying basis for Herod’s actions and all subsequent attacks on those who receive Christ as their Savior and Lord (which did not exist before Jesus was born, lived, was crucified and rose again) is found in Revelation 12:
1A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 2and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.
3Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon…who stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.
5And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. 6Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished…7And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon….
9And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him….
13And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child… 17So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus [NAS]
Even Jesus declared in Matt 10:34: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” [NAS]
* * * * *
Certainly, Christmas and what we celebrate in the birth of Christ is a great and glorious gift. However, the true substance of that event is the hope it provided for what was to follow when the gift was fully assembled.
In one sense, Christmas is similar to the American and Allied troops landing on the beaches of Europe to begin an attack that would eventually lead to the end of World War II. The hope created by those landings still had to be followed or brought to fruition with many subsequent battles through fear and trembling. On-going enlistments, training and deployment of additional soldiers, paratroopers being dropped behind enemy lines; USOs, food and ammunition supply lines for rejuvenation and nourishment of body and spirit, and of course, air support all had to be assembled, put in place and made to function efficiently for the victory march to succeed. Staying on the beach was not an option.
Just as the military commanders in WWII did not invade Europe without first having a complete plan in place, the Gift of Christmas from God came with all the parts, pieces and instructions needed for His ultimate victory to be fulfilled. The life and ministry of Jesus, His death and resurrection, the ministry of the twelve disciples, the Bible, the follow-up/follow-through of the Holy Spirit, our individual Spiritual Gifts, our free will, and our engagement in the battle were all included in God’s Christmas Gift right from the beginning.
As His instruction Manual clearly states: 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, SO we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. [Eph. 2:8-10 NAS]
Thus, always remember “With Christmas, ‘Some assembly is required’” and never shirk from the assignments that were given to you along with that Gift. END
Have a great week!
Bob Alderman (and to my family, Love Dad)
PERMISSION is given to reproduce this article in any format – provided it is not altered in any way including retention of the author “by” line and © in the title; no cost is charged to the recipients beyond the cost of reproduction, if any; not more than fifty hard copies are reproduced without my further written permission; AND “Reproduced with the express permission of Robert E. Alderman, Jr. of www.TheGreatestLaw.com – all rights reserved” is provided at the end.
12/22/10-ezra/mydocs/PEARS/blogs/AssemblyRequired01- modified 12/24/19