A divine secret millionaire (see previous post), who offers us at his own expense a loving relationship with our Creator, may sound too good to be true, but think again about the key points.
• The television secret millionaires used their money to the greatest advantage, not by spending it on themselves, but by giving it away.
• Yeshua (Jesus) came willingly to this Earth to take on a very basic life, and a very brutal death, but by taking my place, and yours, He has secured an eternal future for all who receive His offer of forgiveness and new life.
• Compared to the Creator of the universe who am I? I do not have the matchless beauty, the supreme intelligence, the awesome power, and yet if He thinks I am worth coming to this Earth for and suffering so much, I must be someone very special and of infinite worth.
Realising that you’re special, realising that you’re loved, and knowing that peace with your Creator is offered to you as a free gift may sound very comfortable and easy. We really can trust Him for our future, but following Yeshua is challenging. What else do you expect from someone who gave His life in the service of others, and calls you to follow Him? It takes more than clicking ‘Like’ on the Jesus Christ Facebook page. Yeshua calls us all to turn from our old ways, forget about ourselves and put Him first.
Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must forget about himself. He must take up his cross and follow Me. If anyone wants to keep his life safe, he will lose it. If anyone gives up his life because of Me, he will save it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
How many of you have watched the TV programme Secret Millionaire? Each programme focuses on a real millionaire, who leaves his or her luxury home and family for ten days, and moves to a rundown urban area. While living alone and incognito in a very basic house, they spend their time volunteering with three local charities. Often they find themselves caring for the sick or feeding the hungry, supporting needy children or comforting the bereaved. At the end of ten days, they reveal their true identity to the charities and to needy individuals, and give away thousands of pounds (or dollars) of their own money. Many of the charities they help are struggling financially, and the millionaire’s gift is often the lifeline they need to survive.
It struck me recently that this is the very essence of Christmas. Approximately two thousand years ago – but not in December – the Creator of the universe left behind the riches of His spiritual home, to live a basic life incognito, while he healed the sick and fed the hungry, welcomed the children and comforted the bereaved (by bringing their dead back to life). At the end of His time here, He gave the most expensive gift anyone could give. He gave His own life to pay the debt we all owe to our Creator. None of us has lived a perfect life; no one has a totally clear conscience – except Yeshua. So out of His immense love for us, He took our place to buy our forgiveness and secure our future. As Rabbi Sha’ul of Tarsus (the apostle Paul) wrote, “You know the generous grace of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Though He was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty could become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)
Following the filming of the TV programmes, rather than abandon their charities, many of the millionaires return to provide help and support on an ongoing basis. In the same way Yeshua calls us into an ongoing, loving relationship with Himself. He promises “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
“Surely there’s more to life than this?” Many people have a sense that this is not all there is, that outside of this material world, that beyond the blogosphere, the shopping malls and the celebrities – and indeed beyond the poverty, injustice and suffering of this world –there is an intelligence, a presence that we cannot see. Some scour the skies for evidence of alien activity, some avidly research psychic phenomena, some are in continual contact with their spirit guides. Many spend their lives searching for what works, others for what is true.
Two thousand years ago, approximately 4 BCE, someone came to this earth, was born, grew up and lived for over thirty years as one of us, but his supernatural signs and miracles showed that he was someone very special. His wisdom, teaching and authority were far beyond that of human reason. His claims about himself were either ludicrous or true. He claimed to have lived in eternity before the world began (John 17:5); he claimed not only to be the way to God (John 14:6), but that anyone who had seen him had seen God (John 14:9). He not only predicted his own death (Matt 12:40; 17:9), but also his future return in power (Matt 16:27; 24:30).
Surely someone who came with so much love, so much wisdom, so much mystery, must warrant a closer look. If not, we may miss the evidence we’ve been searching for, and spend our lives always looking but never finding the spiritual satisfaction we’ve been seeking. As a Jewish rabbi once wrote:
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-17)
May you discover the real meaning of Christmas, and in so doing find LIFE itself!