SBC Life Articles

Wherever You Go

The holiday season can be stressful. I know I feel stressed. I'm the guy that has to get the Christmas tree straight. Let's be honest guys, let's have a time of bonding here. It is tough to get the tree straight. My favorite carol is "Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, why can't you stand perpendicularly?"

Men stress over gift giving. We don't take hints well. One guy said his wife wanted to travel so he got her a map. Another man's wife said she wanted flowers so he bought her seeds. Here are some specific hints of what not to buy:

1. Anything for the kitchen.

2. Anything related to weight loss or self-improvement.

3. Jewelry — What your wife likes you can't afford, and what you can afford she won't like.

4. Anything that you have to know the size. It's best to get a gift certificate — don't get the wrong size.

Our stress, men, is nothing compared to what that guy went through the first Christmas. I'm speaking of Joseph. We don't know much about him except that he is usually on the front of a Christmas card leading the donkey. Everyone knows that Mary and Joseph didn't have a place to stay. Every woman just thinks that he was lost and wouldn't stop for directions. We can identify with Joseph. I can almost picture his frustration, insisting to the innkeeper that he needed a place to stay and the innkeeper responding, "That's not my fault!" I can hear Joseph declaring, "It's not my fault, either!"

Sometimes we over-commercialize Christmas but we often over-spiritualize Christmas. We have the idea that God picked out this cute couple that He lifted into a nativity scene. Beautiful people from all over the world brought them gifts as a choir and orchestra in tuxedos made beautiful music. That isn't how it was. They lived in the real world. Joseph wondered about this marriage, deciding whether or not to put Mary away privately. He was concerned about their journey and about where they would stay. Joseph experienced Christmas in a real world.

Spiritual decisions are made in the context of everyday life and all of its difficulties. His decision to marry Mary was difficult. What was a virgin conception? Yet Joseph believed the unbelievable. Faith is always a part of God decisions. God decisions don't come with a slide ruler or a computer. They aren't often rational.

While studying for a Ph.D. in psychology, I took a class in philosophy. It is like looking for a black cat in a dark room. We discussed syllogisms — two premises that come together and if true, you reach a logical conclusion. Thinking on this I noticed that the previous owner of my textbook had made his own syllogism. In the far right corner he had written "God is love. Love is blind. Ray Charles is blind. Ray Charles is God." Philosophy doesn't hold the answers to life.

Faith holds the answers to life. The Bible says that Joseph was a gracious man. He would have divorced Mary privately so he wouldn't cause her harm. As far as he knew, she could have been stoned; living under the law she could have been condemned to die. An angel came to Joseph and told him to love and accept Mary as his wife. We learn that Jesus came into the world because we are condemned to die but He loves and accepts us. He is gracious to us.

Joseph was able to see the good in this situation because he was able to see God in it. Of course, it helped to have the angels show up to talk to him. We have seen so many Christmas programs that we forget that this was an angel, not a man dressed in a sheet. The angels were excited about the first Christmas. Let's get excited about this Christmas. The spirit of Christmas is to take Jesus where He needs to be taken. That's what Joseph did! Whether it was to Bethlehem or to a foreign country, Joseph took Jesus. Joseph teaches us the spirit of Christmas.

Many years ago I wrapped some presents for my family. My girls took one look at them and said that they didn't know what was in the packages, but they sure knew that Dad had wrapped them. Joseph realized that Jesus was wrapped by God. Joseph believed that Christmas is real and the rest of the year is pretend. This Christmas I hope the tree is straight but more importantly that the story is straight. It's not the tree or what is under it but that Jesus died on the tree for me. This year when a man dressed in a sheet announces that the Lord has come, believe it and do what Joseph did — take Jesus wherever He needs to be taken.

    About the Author

  • Charles Lowery