Merry Christmas! David Sorn. I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
What if things in your past were different?
What if you had never met a certain someone in your life?
What if you had never gotten the job you work at now?
Or even think back on history…
What if Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t have been assassinated?
What if Hitler would have died in a car accident in 1930?
How would history…how would our lives be different?
The day after Thanksgiving, I was listening to Christmas music, and I thought of this question…on an even larger scale.
A Christmas song came on, and it said,
“ What if there was no manger?
No wise men.
Just another day in December”
And I started to think…what if…
What if December 25th…was no different than say…December 18th (apologies to you if that’s your birthday or something)?
What if the 25th was just another cold winter day?
WHAT IF…JESUS NEVER CAME?
WITHOUT CHRIST, THE WORLD WOULD STILL BE IN DARKNESS
If Mary & Joseph never traveled to Bethlehem, and Jesus had never been born, how would the world be different?
Certainly...on a superficial level…there would most likely be no stockings, no Christmas Trees, no people shining laser green & red lights on their houses, no Justin Bieber’s Under the Mistletoe… (Some of you got excited because you thought I was just going to say… “No Justin Bieber”) J
Even from a financial perspective…if the 25th was just another day in December, many would be out of work…as so many people in the retail world get their livelihood from what happens at Christmas.
But let’s dig even deeper..
What effect has the birth of Christ truly had on the world?
For one, the reason we have any sort of concept of social justice today is because of Christianity
For example: It was a dangerous thing to be born in the ancient world.
In many ancient religions, child sacrifice was common.
In ancient Rome & Greece female babies were often just left outside to die.
Many of these things were common practice until Christians led reforms to outlaw them in the fourth century.
Because Jesus taught us the value of human life.
But what if the 25th was is just another day in December?
What does the world look like if Jesus was never born?
And it’s not just that Jesus taught us to value the sanctity of human life…but to take care of the weak as well.
His whole life was characterized by a love for the “least of these”: the sick, the elderly, the leper, the prostitute, the foreigner.
I read the other day that it’s estimated that 95% of services that are started with the purpose of serving the homeless (soup kitchens, shelters, etc.) are started by Christians.
Those who want to emulate Christ.
But what if this was just another day in December?
The same sort of thing is true in world relief organizations.
They are overwhelming Christian.
World Vision, Compassion International, Samaritan’s Purse…the Salvation Army.
Speaking of, I just recently finished the biography of William & Catherine Booth…who started the Salvation Army in the mid 1800’s.
Today…when we hear “Salvation Army,” we just think about ringing bells for the poor…and Dallas Cowboys jumping into huge red kettles
But the Salvation Army, when it started was…what it sounds like…a salvation army.
They went out to the urban poor in the streets of London, and held open air revival meetings and gave invitations for people to follow Jesus!
They saw thousands upon thousands of drunks & prostitutes come to Christ which caused the bar owners absolutely hate them.
Much like the idol-makers of Ephesus hated the Apostle Paul in Biblical times.
The impact of Christianity doesn’t just have a spiritual impact, but a moral one.
The great Charles Spurgeon, in writing about the impact of the Salvation Army at that time, wrote:
“If the Salvation Army were wiped out of London, five thousand extra policemen could not fill its place in the repression of crime and disorder.”
But what if the 25th was Just Another Day in December?
And there was nothing really for people to live for, except for another drink?
If it’s hard to see this impact on a global level…perhaps you can see it if we bring it in and then expand it out.
For those of you in this room who know Jesus personally, let me ask YOU a question: “Can you imagine your own life without Jesus?”
There’s a line from a Christian song in the early 2000’s that says, “I believe (in heaven that) I will see what I would have been…if you didn’t save me”
I think about that every once in a while.
I became a Christian when I was 18 years old.
But what if this was just another day in December.
What if there was nothing of value to turn my life over to?
Where would I be today?
I don’t know about you…but for me…that’s ugly to think about.
I hope you can see the impact this day has had on history if you take one person’s story…and you multiply it by a 2 billion Christians.
What does the WORLD look like if none of us have Christ?
But thankfully…this version of history is not true.
2,000 years ago, God sent His Son on Christmas…with a mission to impact the world.
Let’s take a look at a passage
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke in the Bible tell us the Christmas story that many are familiar with (Mary & Joseph, Bethlehem and the Shepherds, etc.)
But as the Gospel of John begins, its take on Christmas…gives us more of the reasons behind it all
(John 1:1-5) – NIV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Jesus came to bring light…hope…and change to this dark world.
And if He had never come…surely this world would be darker than ever.
WITHOUT CHRIST, WE PERSONALLY ARE STILL IN DARKNESS
And maybe you’re sitting here today, and you’re thinking, “Yeah, I guess I could see how the world would look different if it was just another day in December, and Jesus never came”
“Just how I could see that the world would look different if George Washington or Abraham Lincoln were never born”
But maybe you’re thinking, “I’m not sure that that really affects me personally a whole lot”
Maybe for you, you realize that it’s not just another day…but honestly, it kind of feels like just another holiday.
A day that’s a little bit more special than just any other day, but Christmas is not radically impacting your life…just as Thanksgiving or the 4th of July aren’t radically impacting your life
And I think that’s because for a lot of people (I know this was me) Jesus is just a nice baby in a manger.
Or some guy who fed the 5,000 with a few loaves of bread.
Neat…but, how does that impact my everyday life?
It reminds me of this video
(Play skit guys video)
I don’t know where you are in your life right now.
I don’t know if you’re following Jesus or not.
And by following Jesus, I don’t just mean you came to a Christmas service about the baby Jesus.
I mean that Jesus is the Lord of your life. You have a relationship with Him where you talk to Him every day, and take your direction from Him.
But I want to tell you…that wherever you are…that Jesus can completely transform your present and your future.
And I want you to consider this…
If the fact that birth of Jesus has had an enormous impact on history as we know it (billions & billions of lives)…perhaps that should mean that He could have an impact on your life too.
We can actually see this by just examining how hard it would be to deal with some of life’s biggest challenges…IF…Jesus had never come
For example, if December 25th was just another day, what do we do with our mistakes…our sin…our regret?
I’ve always believed that there is no stronger emotion than regret
Maybe that’s why so many of us work so hard to avoid owning up to our own mistakes…we don’t want to feel regret.
But yet…it’s there.
Think of it this way: If an angel came to you and told you that you could go back to 1 or 2 days in your life…and change a mistake you made…what would they be?
Maybe you’ve lived your live better than me…but I have those days.
Where I said things to people that damaged relationships.
Or where I made choices…that were just plain stupid…sinful…against God…and people…
But since we can’t go back, what do we do? What do we do with our sin?
Especially when we die…because…I’m not sure if you’re aware of this but a recent study by Gallup has shown that 100% of people die.
And when we die and we meet God for judgment…does God just overlook all of our sin?
All the times we hurt others, ignored God, sinned against Him?
We like to think God won’t overlook the sins of tyrants and criminals because we think God should be “just”…but we’d prefer if God would overlook our sins…because we want God to be merciful. 🙂
But the Bible teaches that God is both Just and Merciful
And so I just want to tell you something: Jesus came for you.
He came on Christmas for you.
Because you and I, we ARE sinners. We sin…we fall short.
And yes, even for our sin, there must be justice…punishment.
But that’s exactly why Christmas happened.
God sent Jesus to be born, and to grow up, teach us, and take our punishment on a cross.
It’s why he was born. He was born…so that he could die.
In fact, this is right in the Christmas story!
(Matthew 1:20-21) – NIV
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
And the Bible says that if you believe that Jesus died for you…God will take the punishment off of you, and place it onto Jesus.
So YOU, can be forgiven…saved from your sins
And when you die, you will not be guilty and bound to hell, but forgiven, with an eternal destination of heaven.
That’s WHY Jesus came. For you!!
It’s what Christmas is all about.
And so…because December 25th is not just another day…we can have an answer for our sin.
But if it’s just another day…then what hope do we have?
Let me show you another way that Christmas is the answer to what ails us.
We must ask: If December 25th was just another day, what do we do with our pain…and our grief?
This is a question that much of the world doesn’t have a real answer to.
As I was thinking of that this week, I got to thinking about an interesting family tradition my wife’s family has every Christmas
Every year, we watch a video of my wife’s grandma
The video is from Christmas 2008.
It’s of her opening presents in Texas.
My in-laws filmed it because we couldn’t be there with her that day.
And then at the end of it, she looks at the camera and addresses all of us personally with a little message.
It’s a powerful video because she was one of the Godliest women I ever met.
She died 6 months after the video was filmed.
And so to us…that video is powerful.
It’s some of our last memories of her
But I thought, “What’s so powerful about it? Why do we watch it every year?”
It’s powerful, in part, because of what we believe about Christmas.
We believe that there is truth in her words as she talks to us about God.
But we also believe that while death and loss are heart-wrenching, for the Christian, they are not heartbreaking.
We believe, because we’re all believers in Jesus…it’s not goodbye.
Our separation from each other is only temporary.
Over the span of 1,000 years, it’ll seem like a short blip of time.
When Jesus came to earth on Christmas, he changed the game…for the whole world.
But if December 25th is just another day…if God didn’t come down to show us how to reach heaven and what He was like…then what answers do we have for our grief?
Even if Christmas is just another holiday…what answers are there?
All of us experience pain, and suffering, and loss.
And many times, rather than seek answers to these things, we simply try and medicate them
With another drink…or entertainment…or even by acquiring more stuff.
But our stuff…won’t solve our biggest problems.
One of the things that always strikes me about the Christmas video of my wife’s grandma is how pointless the gifts seem as she opens up presents in the background.
Knowing now that she only lived for a few more months…and maybe never even wore some of the articles of clothing.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t give gifts at Christmas this weekend…the wise men brought gifts to Jesus.
Celebrate his birth.
But recognize that we should perhaps pay stronger attention to our elders when they say, “I don’t really NEED anything”
Because the closer you get to death…the more intuitive it is that getting another possession…or finally getting a house…or a promotion…won’t solve your deepest needs.
And as I look at my wife’s grandma in that video…she’s thankful for the gifts (that people thought of her)…but she KNOWS…that in a short time, Her Father in Heaven…is going to supply everything she ever needed.
But what if it is just another day in December…what do we do with grief and loss?
It’s more painful than ever…because we will never see those people again.
If it’s just another day in December…what do we do with our own death?
Most of us just try and numb our minds to it
We try and run from it and run towards another new possession or pursuit instead.
But you can’t run from it forever.
Are you ready for it?
Do you fear it?
You don’t have to
The letter of Hebrews in the Bible tells us this is one of the reasons God sent us Jesus on Christmas
(Hebrews 2:14-15) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION!!!
14 Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. 15 Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.
With Jesus…we don’t have to be afraid…even of dying.
But if Christmas is just another freezing cold day of winter…than what hope do we have?
Who can forgive our sins?
Who can offer us more?
John Lennon once said, “Imagine there’s no heaven…it’s easy if you try”
I beg to differ.
There’s nothing easy about imaging there’s no heaven.
Even most people that aren’t sure they believe in God, prefer to remain agnostic, rather than atheist, because they hate the idea that there isn’t something more…that there isn’t some sort of heaven.
And so…if you’re like most people…and you believe there is something more….
Something more to this life…something after this life…
How can we know what it is?
How can we know what to do?
It’s in the Christmas story.
And the evidence is in history…and all around you.
Making Christmas just another day in December…would have an absolute catastrophic effect on world history.
And so you have to ask yourself: Why is it that this story has had such an enormous impact on history?
Why did the day that Jesus was born split history in half as we know it and even how we date our own calendar years?
It’s because this is all real.
It’s not just a story about a baby and a nativity scene.
The story about Jesus is the great truth for your life.
Jesus grew up…he gave us the greatest moral teaching the world has ever known, he healed the sick, he performed miracles, gave his life on the cross, and 3 days later, was resurrected from the dead.
Which means…he’s still alive today.
Which means…when you feel alone this Christmas…because perhaps it’s your first Christmas without a loved one…Jesus is ALIVE…and He can comfort you.
It means that when you feel broken…because of a mistake…or something you said…that Jesus can forgive you
That Jesus can offer you eternal life.
Christmas was not just another day…
It’s the day that changed history.
And it’s the day that can change your present and change your future?
Will you let it?
Here’s how you can:
A few verses later than where we already read in The Gospel of John, John writes about how Jesus’ coming can affect us:
(John 1:12-13) – NIV
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Bible says that when we believe in Jesus…we can become children of God.
The Bible calls this, being born again…perhaps you’re heard this term before.
It means that when you believe that Jesus died for you….God will come into you, and start to change your heart…as if you were born into a new life.
But not just for this life!,
For eternal life!
And, as John tells us in his Christmas introduction, we cannot be forgiven, unless we are born of God.
He says it again, in John 3
(John 3:3) – NIV
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
If we’re not born again…born of God…at our deaths, we will not live…we will only suffer…BECAUSE NO ONE WILL HAVE PAID FOR OUR SINS.
But when you believe in Jesus as your Savior, you are born to live for a future life as well…eternity in heaven.
When you receive Jesus as your Savior (as John says) the Bible says you can know without a doubt that you will go to heaven.
And that gives us, as believers, incredible hope.
That no matter what comes our way (suffering, loss, death), that the darkness simply cannot overcome the light we’ve been given.
And so I ask you…on this day where we will celebrate the fact that Jesus was born…will you be born…born again?
Will you let God forgive all of your sins?
Will you receive Him into your life…and let Him lead it…let Him start changing it for the better?
I’m telling you this is why He came.
And for many of you, I believe it’s why you’re here today.
And so right now…I want to give you an opportunity to let God into your life…to truly become His follower…not just a casual fan from afar.
In fact, let’s just have everyone bow their heads and close their eyes as I want this to be a special moment between you and God.
If that’s you…and it’s time for you to believe in Jesus…to be born again…in a moment…I’m actually going to ask you to respond by quietly standing up right where you are.
It’s a symbolic way to say to God, “Here I am. I believe in faith. I believe you died for me. I want to follow YOU”
NO ONE will be looking at you…no one (don’t even think about that!). This is about you and God.
So wherever you are, if I’m talking to you.. and you’d like to become a follower of Jesus Christ, to enter into a relationship with Him, and accept his gift of forgiveness, I want you to stand up wherever you are.
If God is nudging your heart in this…that means He’s talking to you. That means…it’s TIME. If you feel it in your pulse…in your heart…that’s God. Accept His forgiveness. Start a new life with Him. It’s amazing!
If you’re standing up, would you pray this prayer with me?
It’s not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at… the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths.
So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me
IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe.
So, let’s all say it together with these new believers.
Repeat after me
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life.
(TALK TO BELIEVERS ON NEXT PAGE!!!!)
As everyone else still has their eyes closed, I want to talk to those of you who are standing for just a moment
I need you to do one more thing for me.
It will only take a few small minutes, but I believe these are a few of the most important minutes of your life.
You’ve just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe in any scenario, that requires some more information…
So here’s what we’re going to do…In just a second, I’m going to pray, but right before I do that, I need you to quietly sneak out of your row, and head towards the hallway where it will be quiet.
Members of our follow-up team are standing there to talk to you right in the hallway, and they want to give you some extremely important resources & next steps to get you started on the most important journey of your life.
I promise you’ll be able to sneak right back into the service & back into your seat in just a few moments.
But for now, would you please had out there.
Go ahead. You can all go together. Thank you.
Let me pray.
(if people stand up)
Let’s just clap and praise God.
Church, this is what Christmas is all about.
As you go home today…and you celebrate with food, and music, and presents…
May your hearts be glad.
Know that why we celebrate is not for the things themselves…not just some calendar date…
But because on this day…God came…for each one of us.
For those who just committed their lives to Christ…and for you and me.
And that is worth celebrating.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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