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Father, Father, why have you, forsaken me?
Why does it feel like you’ve walked away from me?
They’ve left me to die, hanging on this tree,
Even though they’re the guilty ones, not me.
I know that this is the crux of your grand plan,
To reconcile yourself with sinful man,
but part of me wonders why I agreed
To go through this hell so that they may be freed
from lives that are rife with lust and greed
But it seems to be what you have decreed.
But since that’s your word, who I am to dissent?
I rest assured that this is not the end,
That though I die, I shall live again
And return to be with you in heaven
And I shall see those who trust in me
And trust my death will set them free.
Thus, in your court, I stand accused,
I accept your judgment for what others do,
And wait for you to rescue me
To rule by your side in heaven for eternity.
(C) 2014 Pravin Jeyaraj
Perhaps this is a question you’ve already been asked in the post-Christmas, pre-New Year lull. What was your answer? Or maybe it’s something to look forward to when you go back to work or school. How would you answer? For me, it was exciting.
Christmas Day was not exciting because of the presents I received. That’s not to say they were not good presents and I am not thankful for them. But the last time I would describing receiving presents from other people as exciting is when I was a kid.
It was not exciting because I spent it with family. Again,that is not to say it was not good time but, as I live with my parents and see my sister and brother-in-law regularly, Christmas Day was arguably in many ways just like any other day of the year.
Indeed, for 13 years, I increasingly found myself asking what’s the point of Christmas? If Christmas Day is not special because of presents and family, why bother celebrating it?
I became excited about Christmas seven years ago, when I became a Christian.
Presents and family are precisely what Christmas is about, not in themselves but as symbols of God’s gift to humankind to welcome us back into his family. His son, Jesus Christ, was born as a human to live as one of us, be executed for all of us and come back to life so that each of us could be forgiven of our sins and be with God for eternity.
Why do you find Christmas exciting or not? Please leave your answer below.
Its now 7 am on Christmas Day 2013.
The two days before Christmas Day is traditionally busy for me, but not because I am doing my Christmas shopping or trying to get home for Christmas. I live with my parents and I would have sorted out presents by then. On Christmas Day and during Advent, Christians remember not only that God came to Earth as a human, jesus, but also that Jesus will come again.
There are different views on how this might happen. Some Christians believe that Jesus will first return quietly like a thief in the night, take all genuine Christians of all time to heaven suddenly (the rapture), let Satan wreak havoc for a few years (the Tribulation) then come back in visible full force to judge everyone. This is meant to be a final attempt by God to let people accept or reject him. Other people believe, however, that there is no rapture and that we are going through Tribulation at the moment – I lean in this direction. Through my PhD, I am increasingly realising that ideology, including capitalism and communism, is the work of Satan. There are other interpretations too but all Christians agree that Jesus will come back when no one expects it for a Last Judgment. No one knows when though – only God does, as the Bible says, so if anyone claims to know he or she is a false prophet.
I always think therefore, how do I want Jesus to find me when he returns. This soon morphs into, if there is a rapture how do I want to leave my room for others to find.
Of course, Jesus could come back any day of the year. But the deadline of Christmas Day motivates me to do a mass spring clean just in case. This is why the last two days have been hectic but last night it was all done. (There’s still more to do but I’ll need something to do if Jesus doesn’t return today.)
So its now 7:45 am on Christmas Day. I am getting up to celebrate his birthday.
For someone with a broadly liberal outlook, it is disconcerting to be called narrow-minded. Before I became a Christian, I saw nothing wrong with sex before marriage, homosexual practice, abortion or inter-faith marriage. Since I accepted that jesus died for my sins, I have struggled with how I should view them. But in the end I accept that God has put forward a particular template for life; who am I as a lowly human to question God? Every time I try to reconcile his law with an opposing world view, I am saying that the manufacturer of the world is wrong. Thats like saying Microsoft cannot know how Word works (probably not the best analogy).
On the contrary, being a Christian has meant that I must be even more open-minded. As Peter writes in Acts chapter 10, God does not show favouritism to one group of people. Jesus died for the sins of all people. He will accept anyone who accepts this truth because they have been cleansed. So, being part of a global church family, i am called to love people whom my liberal self would have seen as the tools of the devil. I am called to love those who live what the bible calls sinful lifestyles because I am a sinner; they need Jesus as much I need him. I am called to love my neighbour because we are all made in God’s image. And finally I am called to love an infinite, eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing God; how can such a God be contained within the limits of mind? I have to open my mind just to consider him.
In truth, it is atheists who are closeminded because they cannot conceive what they cannot see. It is liberals who are closeminded because anyone who disagrees with them is biased, prejudiced, even if the reason for their bias is beyond the limits of this world. (Those who are biased because they hate others who are not like them are just as closeminded.) And finally, those who believe that there is more than one way to God and that all religions are the same are closeminded for not accepting a faith that says there is only one way to God.
In my experience, trying to keep God out involves erecting some kind of mental boundary. It is like living in a closed society, that cannot look over the walls and becoming more and more fearful of what is beyond. The irony is that Jesus is outside, knocking, waiting for you to call him in; at the same time, all God needs is a crack in the wall and he will gradually knock it down.
For the record, I am still a liberal who believes in freedom. That is because only God can really free or liberate the mind.