When you think of Christmas, do you think of shopping, family, travel, stress? Of course we do! It’s part of the Christmas holiday.
But, as Christians, we know there is more to Christmas than just these secular activities – a LOT more.
I recently watched “Christmas with the Chosen: The Messengers” ( the trailer is here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9s7OUspzes) and began thinking about the time between Malachi and Jesus’ birth.
As I reread Malachi, it’s obvious God was not happy with the Israelites. Consider these subheads from the Bible’s Book of Malachi: “The Priests’ Polluted Offerings (Mal 1:6-1:14); The Lord Rebukes the Priests (Mal 2:1-2:9); Judah Profaned the Covenant (Mal 2:10 – 2:16);Robbing God (Mal 3:6 – 3:15).
J. Vernon McGee in his commentary, “Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee”, says,
“What do we do today that corresponds to that which was taking place in Israel in Malachi’s day? Remember that the apostle Paul described the men in the last days as “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof …” (2Ti_3:5). Men will be very pious. There is a great deal of pompous piousity that is demonstrated by many so–called Christians today. Paul describes them as “having a form of godliness.” You can pour oleomargarine into a butter mold, and it may look like butter, it may even smell like butter, but it is not butter. You probably have heard the story of the very stingy man who gave his wife a mink coat—at least, it was supposed to be a mink coat. No one could understand why this man would be so generous until one day when he and his wife went walking down the street. As they passed a rabbit hound, the coat jumped off his wife and started running! It just happened to be rabbit, you see—not mink.
We should recognize God’s rebuke here as a danger signal and as a red light for us. This is a message for folk who go to church—they listen, they are very orthodox, very fundamental, and they say amen. They know the language. They can quote any number of pious platitudes. They are satisfied with a tasteless morality. They go through a form of truth and all the shibboleths, and they are satisfied. But may I say to you, they actually despise God when they approach worship like that. It was Dr. G. Campbell Morgan who years ago made the statement, “I am more afraid of the profanity of the sanctuary than I am of the profanity of the street.” The profanity of the streets is bad enough, my friend.”
Are we any different?
Consider the following statistics from Revival Outside the Walls: , ( https://www.rotw.com/this-weeks-shocking-stat )
(You can learn more about the methodology used to gather these statistics here: https://www.rotw.com/get-facts
- 79% of Americans claim success is about happiness, good health, productivity, or higher consciousness.
- 73% of churched Millennials believe they are gifted at sharing their faith, but half of them (47%) think it is wrong to share the faith with someone of a different faith.
- 29% of Americans say they will get even with someone who has wronged them.
- 85% of young people ages 12-25 don’t see their church as a place they can turn to in times of trouble.
- Nearly half of Americans (47%) who pray every day usually pray for only but a few seconds or a minute or two.
- More than half of all evangelicals are over 55 years of age compared to just one-third in 2008.
- The average American hasn’t made a friend in the five years before COVID.
- 34% of teenagers don’t share the same beliefs as their parents, but their parents don’t know.
- 22% of Evangelicals have made a conscious decision to hide their faith from their friends for fear they might offend them.
- 18% of Americans have just one person or no one they count as a trusted friend.
- 35% of U. S. atheists think about the meaning of life at least weekly.
- Only half of America’s pastors (51%) have a biblical worldview.
- In Harvard University’s 2019 freshman class, 39% of students identified as atheists and agnostics, more than the number of Catholics and Protestants (34%) added together.
- For the first time ever, less than half of Americans (47%) say they belong to or are members of a local church.
- One-half of American adults (49%) don’t know whether it was Paul, Peter, John, or Jesus who taught the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospels.
- 30% of Evangelicals agree that Jesus was a great teacher, but he wasn’t God!
- 54% of U.S. churches allow openly gay or lesbian couples to hold full-fledged memberships, an increase of 70% compared to just twelve years ago.
- 68% of all evangelical churches in the United States have a congregation with less than 100 people including children and half of those churches have less than 50!
- 60,000 churches or 20% of all churches in America, could close within the next 18 months. The COVID-19 pandemic will bring a fundamental change in the way Americans attend church.
- 34% of Evangelicals believe abortion is morally acceptable if it spares the mother financial or emotional stress.
- Just 22% of weddings took place in a church, half the number of ten years ago.
- Only 52% of churchgoers say that when COVID is over, they want to return to primarily in-person worship.
If God was disappointed with the Israelites in Malachi’s time, I wonder how He feels about us?
I started this post with a question, “What does Christmas mean to you?”
Perhaps a better question would be, “Jesus, what does Christmas mean to you?”
While you ponder that, here is an excerpt from The Chosen’s, “A Story of the First Christmas” featuring The Piano Guys, “What Child is This?”