Evil days require making the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:15-16). When interacting with those outside the Christian faith, “buy up” every opportunity for gospel speaking (Colossians 4:5). Given the Christmas season that is upon us, how can we be gospel-centered in our celebrations?
Joy will definitely diminish in the fog of any life season when our focus moves away from Christ. In my last post, I encouraged a steady concentration on Christ that contemplates in a satisfying manner the awe and wonder of the incarnation. In this post I want to inspire proclamation and modeling of Christ as we move in and out of our Christmas celebrations.
I am always impressed with godly men and women who so easily and naturally speak the gospel into a conversation. I am thinking of three men in particular from our Colonial Baptist church family who were forthright but gracious in how they spoke about Christ among both believers and unbelievers. I certainly desire this same conversational ability.
Colossians 4:2-6 bids us in this direction. These verses catalog a list of final exhortations for the readers. In this list there are three entreaties to pray (4:2, 3, 4) that are coupled with thanksgiving and gospel proclamation. Paul asks his readers to pray for an open door (cf., 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12) to proclaim the mystery of Christ which is then followed by an appeal to pray for clarity in the good news announcement. In verse 5, the speaking requests are coupled with conduct concerns; act wisely making the most (buying up) of every opportunity. Verse 6 brings the attention back to speaking with grace.
Now, what might be some insightful applications of this text of our Christmas celebrations? First, pray. Persevere in asking the Lord for an open door to speak about the eternal, incarnate Christ. Resolve to pray alone, as well as with your family and friends. Second, when the Lord opens the door, speak to make known the mystery of Christ in you (Colossians 4:3 cf., 1:27). Let others know, in the most gracious manner, your relationship with Christ as you ought to. Finally, buy up proclamation opportunities and acts of kindness with courage and creativity.
Ephesians 5:15-16 is another passage that calls us to redeem the opportunities before us. The exhortations of Ephesians 5 are constructed around wise living. This brief section opens with the command to walk accurately and strictly in this life (Ephesians 5:15). The adverb “careful” is the Greek word “akribos,” a term selected by a watch manufacturer (Akribos) to name its product. The admonition is to walk with the precision and accuracy of an expensive time piece taking full advantage of every opportunity. Fools walk selfishly and in self-satisfying ways without any accuracy and without any consideration of biblical, gospel-laid boundaries.
Since the days are evil, we must redeem the time, make full use (NEB) of every opportunity. The text assumes the presence of all forms of evil, immorality, and addictions. Despite this, the Word calls us to action. Our conduct in these evil days must be shaped by an understanding of the will of God and the control of the Holy Spirit (5:17-18). Such a life is filled with heart-felt singing and giving thanks to the Lord.
When I consider the breath of Scripture, I take note of a few things that help me to make application of the Colossians 4 and Ephesians 5 passages to this Christmas season. A Spirit filled life models the person of Christ. In light of Philippians 2:1-11, I am encouraged to model Christ’s selfless manner of life. In this season I want to value others better than myself, to be truly sensitive to the needs around me, and to make the most of Christ-like servanthood.
The very familiar John 3:16 text urges me to model Christ’s sacrificial giving. I must fight the “give me” and “gotta have it” appeal of my nature.
In a context of evil days it would be easy to have a combative spirit at festive events. Without compromising truth and biblical principle I do want to model Christ’s pursuit of peace (1 Peter 3:8-12). He did not do evil when evil was done to Him; He did not insult others when insulted; and He did not withhold compassion (cf., Romans 14:19; Hebrews 12:14).
Finally, gospel-centered Christmas celebrations should be saturated with genuine expressions of unconditional love. The steadfast loyal love of Christ expressed in the gospel to me must be modeled in all my relationships during these days (Ephesians 5:2; 1 John 3:23).
I trust that the Lord will use us as salt and light this Christmas. To the believer who reads this post, I would say fight to savor Christ in all your Christmas celebrations. To the unbeliever looking in, I would ask you to consider the true meaning of Christmas and, for the first time in your life, receive a gift that really fits, that lasts for eternity, and that brings lasting joy. The salvation Jesus offers is available to anyone who will say with a sincere heart of faith, I am a sinner; I am willing to turn from my sin; I want to receive the gift of Christ. Merry Christmas!