Getting Ready to Receive, Day 18

Today’s post comes from my colleague and good friend, Troy Forrester. Troy is a pastor at First United Methodist Church of Oak Ridge, TN. In addition to his zeal for church softball and making it to every baseball stadium in the U.S., Troy is deeply passionate about leading people into an ongoing walk with Jesus Christ. He speaks with great wisdom on the practicality of our faith, especially in regard to money. Enjoy!

Matthew 6:19-21

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rustconsume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Think for a moment about how many advertisements you see within the course of a day.  The internet, magazines, television, radio, and other media outlets are filled with advertisements attempting to convince consumers that they cannot go one more moment without purchasing the item of the day.  This continuous media onslaught often prevails and convinces their audience that they must think, believe, and buy a certain way.  Our thoughts and behaviors are being formed and molded often without our acknowledgement.

We as Christians we must be careful of this because our hearts are formed by what we worship.  Excitement, anticipation, hope – each of these emotions swells around the object of our dearest affection.  We spend our time, energy, and money on what matters most to us.

Author Rick McKinley poses the question, “What do we worship during this season of Advent?  “Jesus” is the right answer, of course, but is it the truthful answer?  Does the way we spend our time, money, and energy testify that we worship God incarnate?  Season after season, many churchgoers have learned to say the right things without allowing their words to reach their hearts.  Simply saying that Jesus is the desire of our hearts doesn’t make it truthful.  In fact, saying the right things when they aren’t BELIEVED THINGS hinders true worship.” (Advent Conspiracy,  p.32)

An excellent way for Christians to remember their object of their worship, would be to heed the words of Mike Slaughter, the pastor of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church, as he presses his congregation on the issue of Christmas by asking the question, “Whose birthday is it?”  He reminds individuals that it is not their birthday, but Jesus’ birthday and their gifts should reflect this understanding.  In this vein he challenges each individual to give equally to a mission opportunity in the church as they spend on their families.  This bold initiative has transformed their church and significantly impacted those in need.

So, during this Christmas season I encourage you to avoid getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of consumerism.  Rather, think about who and what we as Christians are celebrating during this time.  May we follow the teachings of Jesus and strive to think first of our neighbors in need before we think of friends and family that likely already have more than enough.  Providing clean water, donating to an area food bank, and numerous other faithful opportunities are available to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  This Christmas may we remember Christ’s birth not only with our words, but with our actions!

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