Sunday, December 23, 2012

Being a Sign to Others: When Your Family Doesn't Celebrate Christ in Christmas

A single day remains before we gather round friends and family to celebrate Christmas Day.  Most of us have plans of exchanging gifts as well as shared meals, laughter, and joy.

We will linger long over pie and coffee, say our good bye's more than once before we finally tear ourselves away from each other and part ways, all knowing that these few precious moments may be the only ones throughout the whole year when we will sit in the same room as our loved ones.

Perhaps some of these friends and family do not celebrate Christ's birth, deny his deity, or simply  deny Him as master over their lives.

We know they are lost, that need to claim Him as Savior and Lord.  Yet, we don't want to beat them over the head with the gospel each time we meet together, especially when they have heard the Word of God and have made it clear to us they don't want us "preaching" to them.

What can we do? When we are given this opportunity to meet with them face to face, one that we may not have for another 365 days.  Or maybe never again.

Do we hold our tongue? Hesitate to mention Christ at all because we fear offending others?

I'm not advocating starting a confrontation or family feud at your Christmas gathering.  Yet, a Christian can still use the opportunity to act as a sign to others.

The book of Ezekiel takes place approximately 593 years before Christ's birth.  In its pages, the Lord makes Ezekiel mute unless the prophetic word comes directly from above and out his human mouth.  Ezekiel's very life was to be a sign to others through his actions.

Honestly, Ezekiel's actions seem really odd.  Even to those in his day when allegories and living metaphors were more easily understood, I'd be willing to bet he got some really strange looks and his name mentioned more than once behind closed doors.  Still, he obeyed God and lived his life as a sign.

For example, in Chapter 4, Ezekiel creates a model of Jerusalem, builds a siege wall, and begins using battering rams against it.  As the Lord says, "This is a sign to the house of Israel" (v. 3).

Later, the Lord says, "Load the baggage on your shoulder in their sight and carry it out in the dark.  You shall cover your face so that you cannot see the land, for I have set you as a sign to the house of Israel" (Ez. 12:6).

In both instances, Ezekiel uses his life, his actions as a testimony concerning Jerusalem's pending destruction at the hand of Babylon.

Several chapters later, God takes Ezekiel's wife but commands him not to mourn her death.  The Lord says, "Thus Ezekiel will be a sign to you; according to all that he has done you will do; when it comes, then you will know that I am the Lord God" (Ez. 24:24).

The chapter ends with God telling Ezekiel he will regain his ability to speak when the prophecy of Jerusalem's destruction is fulfilled and captives come from Jerusalem: "On that day, your mouth will be opened to him who escaped, and you will speak and be mute no longer. Thus you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the Lord" (v. 27).

And in those two preceding verses is the key to why Ezekiel's actions are so important--you will know that I am the Lord God.

Ezekiel's actions were to act as a sign for all others to see in the hopes that they would see the truth, turn from their wickedness, repent, and truly know Him as their Lord.

Likewise, our family and friends need to see Christ in us who claim Him as Savior and Lord.

Even if we never open our mouths to speak one word of Scripture to "preach at" them, on Christmas day and throughout the year, our family should be able to see Jesus in our actions, hear our personal love for Jesus always spilling from our very lips.  When asked about our past year, we should be prepared to give God the glory for all He has done, all He has brought us through.

Even if our families won't listen to the plan of salvation, we are still given an opportunity to share Christ with our very lives, our words, our gestures.

It's an opportunity on Christmas Day and every other day of the year.  It is a lifestyle of godliness, holiness, and purity to point a lost World to Him who can save them.

We must decide.  Are  we prepared to be a sign to others?  Are we prepared to live a life that testifies to the entire world that God does require a different standard of living?  Are we willing to make that level of commitment?

Or will we simply compromise when our friends ask us to, stay completely silent for the sake of political correctness?

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