Friday, December 24, 2021
As I was leaving one of our larger department stores in Eau Claire I passed by a couple of teenage girls who were ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. I dropped some money in their collection bucket and one of the girls said, “Thank you, and happy holidays.” I responded with a loud and emphatic, “Merry Christmas to you.” As I turned to walk away I heard her say to her friend, “Oh man! That’s another one I could have said ‘Merry Christmas’ to.”
My heart is gripped with sadness when I stop to realize that the sharing of the Good News of great joy is no longer for all people, but only for those who will not be offended by it. We have caved to the public notion of political correctness. We pre-qualify our audience and pre-determine our words, and the consequence is that the world doesn’t know in whom to believe. They do not call on Jesus because they have not heard of Jesus – at least not in the way they should hear about Him. They have not heard of Jesus as Savior because those who know Him have stopped preaching to those who don’t. Maybe we have stopped preaching the good news because we don’t believe we have been sent.
I know that we know that Jesus sent us when He gave us the great commission, but do we truly understand the authority behind the sending? Not authority as in the power to enforce a command, but rather the authority to be involved in the eternal purpose of God. God did not use His authority to issue a decree and then demand obedience: He used His authority to completely satisfy our need so that we need nothing from the world. He did not leave us to fend for ourselves and suffer the consequences alone. He did not under-equip us for the task. He did not demand our obedience but rather inspired our cooperation.
Luke 2:10 – 12 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Romans 10:14 – 15 14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
We need to understand that when God sent us to preach the good news of great joy He did not intend for that to be a joyless experience for us. How convincing is our message of joy when delivered with voices of fear coming from faces of obligation? Yet that is how many of us respond to the opportunities to share the good news: we fear the consequences of people’s responses more than we rejoice in the promises of God’s authority. The telling of the good news is an outpouring of the love and joy we have personally experienced from God through our Savior Jesus Christ. His authority has fully equipped us with security and strength so that the people of the world can have no affect on our status before God. His authority has already conquered the enemy, so we need not fear. Death has been conquered. Fear has been destroyed. We have been set free by the authority of Jesus so that we need not fear the responses and reactions of the world.
The angels announced good news of great joy, and they did it with authority. The shepherds spread the word about what they had seen and heard, and they did it with enthusiasm and authority. Anna, the prophetess, told everyone she could about the arrival of the Messiah. Everyone who has a personal encounter with Jesus receives the joy, power, and authority of the Holy Spirit to share the good news.