Friday, December 19, 2014

Countdown to Christmas Conversations: An Invitation to Consider the Character of the Christ – Introduction

Countdown to conversation, with or without candy.
I get what they mean. “Happy Holidays – Enjoy a Blessed Season of Peace and Understanding.” But it seems to me that if the holidays are to be a season of peace, then it would seem prudent to avoid any actual understanding, especially—as the saying goes—regarding religion and politics.

It’s understandable. We avoid discussing our most deeply held beliefs. Why risk the potential for frustration, misunderstanding, and emotional pain? This isn’t the time of year to damage our relationships, so let’s not try anything that might deepen those relationships, okay?

But what if we did? What if we talked about the ways we derive meaning from life? What if we shared with others the value we place on the various aspects of our lives? That’s what spirituality is about.  Even if we don’t have specific religious, doctrinal categories to call them, spirituality is about the meaning of life and the value we place on its elements. It’s the largest part of what makes me me. And if I claim that we have a relationship, shouldn’t you know what that meaning and those values are? Shouldn’t I know the same about you?

If this is where you're spending Christmas...
Of course, if we’re already arguing over whether turkey or ham (or standing rib roast) should be the main course, or whether mashed potatoes come in a box (they don’t) or cranberry sauce in a can (it does), then it might be better to wait until we’re drowsy from the tryptophan (because “turkey” is the right answer to the question above) before we jump into the spirituality discussion.

Still, my hope is that at some point during the holidays you will choose to take the risk and open the door to a deeper relationship with your friends and family. Toward figuring out a way to do that, I’ll go first. In the next few posts, I want to share with you a part of how I derive meaning from life and assign value to its elements. Many of you already know that a great deal of my spirituality centers of Jesus Christ. You may even have heard me define the gospel: we trust in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as both necessary and sufficient to restore our broken relationship with our Creator, God, and to receive eternal life. I won’t go into all the details of that right now. But there are some aspects of what I understand Jesus Christ to be that might help you understand better who I am and why.

Sometimes it's understandable that you want to eat quietly. But...
In Isaiah 9:6-7, God speaks through the prophet Isaiah and says that the Messiah to be born will fulfill five roles, four of which He names as being “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” The fifth has to do with the government being on His shoulders, but we’ll get to that in due time.

I also want to invite you to comment on whatever aspects of your own spirituality you might choose to share, whether by name or anonymously, in the comment section below. I find that questions from others often help me think through parts of my own spirituality more clearly. But I also enjoy seeing how others put theirs together, even if they come from very different perspectives and build with very different pieces than I work together in mine. So, thanks in advance for simply reading my thoughts, and special gratitude to those of you who will choose to share as well.

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