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FIRST-PERSON: Fighting complacency in a Christmas-saturated world

ANDREWS, N.C. (BP)–Recently I visited a Christian orphanage in the mountains of north-central Honduras. There you’ll find more than 400 children dedicated to Christian work — Bible studies and worship through music every morning at 6:45; Sunday morning and Wednesday night church services; midday Bible studies every Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and the memorization of dozens of Bible verses each week.

They don’t miss a beat.

My first trip there in 2006, I was humbled and enthralled at their dedication to God’s Word and work. They were more dedicated than I was in regards to disciplined time in the Word.

But the more I’ve traveled there and built longer lasting relationships with the children, I’ve come to learn that just because someone has the appearance of being dedicated to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives does not necessarily mean they have an intimate relationship with Christ that is growing and thriving.

There are children there who have experienced the work of Christ in their lives and desire to grow deeper in their faith. On the other hand, there are many children who have developed somewhat of a complacent attitude and lifestyle toward their exposure to Scripture and the things of God.

I watched a video produced by one of the International Mission Board’s European-stationed missions teams that walked me through the streets of Bethlehem to where it is believed the Messiah was born (link: http://mreport.org/2010/12/09/bethlehem-virtual-tour-market-to-manger/). It showed people milling about their everyday businesses, hobbies and personal interests — the hustle and bustle that stimulates culture and drives, what we would deem as, the necessity of life. I can only wonder how many people there, too, are nothing more than complacent to what the Savior’s birth really means. Maybe they’ve lived there their whole lives and have heard the story millions of times to where it’s nothing more than a supposed myth.

In my own town, probably much like yours, the rush of the “holiday season” means presents, wrapping paper, department store sales and twinkling lights. We all know the story — a baby born in a manger to a virgin and chosen to be the Savior of the world. We all sing about the three kings and that silent night, interspersed with a few tunes about the fat guy in the jolly red suit.

But more times than not, even for “churchgoers,” it’s just another story for another month.

When will we allow the truths of the Gospel radically to transform and invade every aspect of our lives? When will we be shaken by the birth of the Messiah, knowing that His coming was to fulfill the prophecy that God has spoken years before and to set into motion His salvation purpose?

There’s an old song that says, “I’m sure the wind whispered His name. I’m sure the earth stood still and the angels all came to Bethlehem to worship the King. I’m sure the stars above thought it was wonderful.”

May we, too, be enthralled and changed by the fact that “[U]nto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Brittany Ragon and her husband John work at a Christian youth camp, Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters (www.swoutfitters.com) in Andrews, N.C., where they minister to middle and high school students through intentional discipleship and high-adventure recreation. She formerly was an assistant editor at The Alabama Baptist newsjournal and is a 2008 graduate of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

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  • Brittany N. Ragon