It’s Christmas! A time to remember, a time to give
December 13, 2005
The Monday night football game was so bad, that I was about to turn it off when I decided to channel surf for a moment. On the first stop, I heard comedian Jay Leno in his opening monologue say, “It’s Christmas and this political correctness thing is really going too far this season. Some major retailers are telling their people to say ‘Happy Holidays’, not ‘Merry Christmas’. We just came through Halloween and it’s still OK to say ‘Satan’ and ‘Halloween’. So, why is it that we come to December and it’s not all right to say, ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘Christmas’?” He expressed the frustration of millions of us didn’t he? Christmas is a wonderful time! However, now more than ever before, our culture is trying to steal it from us.
I believe the reason for this war against Christmas is that we are in a spiritual battle for the hearts and souls of men and women, boys and girls. In this unrelenting battle, the prince of this world, Satan, will use every force possible to discredit and destroy the message and ministry of Jesus Christ on this earth. Add to this the rebellious heart of man and you have a force to be reckoned with.
But, Christmas is about CHRIST! The reason we have gift exchanges at this time of year is because this practice reflects the very nature of God, “… who so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son…(John 3:16). ” God gave His Son to die for us. We are told how the Magi, royal visitors to the infant King of the Jews, brought royal gifts. After they presented themselves to the infant King, they then presented their gifts. Among other things, Christmas is about giving.
The cultural pressure to eradicate Jesus from Christmas and the spirit of giving combine to set a perfect backdrop for the very reason Southern Baptists observe one of our most dearly loved traditions … the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for World Missions.
Lottie Moon was a tiny lady missionary to the Chinese in the last century. But she left a giant legacy and testimony for Southern Baptists (SBC). During the time of great civil war in China, poverty and famine were common as warring forces destroyed everything they touched. Miss Moon selflessly gave her own food rations to her beloved Chinese people to the point that she broke her health. She died on a ship in a Japanese harbor. Her personal sacrifice for her Lord Jesus is the reminder we use to stir our hearts to give as sacrificially to world missions as she did.
Acts 1:8 tells us that we have a God-sized challenge before us with God-sized power to achieve it. The good news is that it appears that we may have the opportunity in our lifetime to take the Gospel to every unreached people group of the world.
Jerry Rankin, president of our SBC’s International Mission Board (IMB), says that it is possible to have the Gospel in every people group by the year 2010! How is this possible? He has worked with other missionary-sending agencies of like doctrinal belief and together laid a strategy for taking the Gospel to every people group. Rankin believes that Southern Baptists can fulfill our portion of this strategy with an additional 3,000 IMB missionaries. Is God in this? After consulting with the IMB’s personnel department, they reported to Rankin that we have just over 3,000 missionary candidates in the “deployment pipeline.” That is good news isn’t it?
However, the sad news is that, adjusted for inflation, 97% of all new dollars given to the local church since 1968 to 1995 have been spent to benefit current members of existing churches rather than given for missions causes (Giving Research 9/15). In addition, in America we spend more on Easter candy than we do for all mission causes in the world!
“Income for overseas mission expenditures to over 600 missionary-sending agencies, including denominational, interdenominational, and independent agencies was $2.9 billion in 1999 (Lifestyle, 1). The 2001 Easter holiday sales were expected to be $2.8 billion. In summary, we spent as much in one week celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ as we did in 52 weeks declaring the life-changing truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (numbers provided by IMB).
Would you join me and my family as we make a sacrificial gift to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for World Missions? Let’s put Christ into the Christmas of a world that is yet to even hear about Him. Give your gift this month to World Missions by placing it in a Lottie Moon envelope in the offering baskets of your church.
“ For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given…” Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV).
“But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.” Romans 5:8 (AMP).