Finding Peace at Christmas

The Bible says God is real, perhaps more real than you imagine, but there is something seriously wrong between us and him. There are a few things it tells us we need to do:

Face up to the problem

Most of us think of ourselves as decent people. But although we may not be murderers or thieves, we’ve all been angry or proud, looked down on others, said or thought bad things about others, tried to hide the truth. The Bible says all these things mean we fall short of God’s standards. It’s not just our actions but our wrong thoughts – the things on the inside – that are sins in God’s eyes and where the problems in our world start. We may not seem bad in our own eyes. It is easy to justify our own behaviour to ourselves. But God is perfect, and he doesn’t share our compromised and desensitised standards.

Stop relying on ourselves

We find it hard to forgive others’ words or actions that have hurt us. Yet we feel God will forgive all our wrongs, help us in this life, and accept us into heaven as if we were friends. But the Bible says that God is good, and he has a sense of justice. He cannot ignore wrong but will judge all of us as he brings about justice and divides the good and bad in heaven and hell. We are guilty of breaking God’s rules and the shocking truth is that the Bible says we are ‘alienated from God’ and his enemies because of our wrong behaviour (Colossians 1:21), facing his condemnation not reward. It is a dangerous place to be. We cannot rely on our own merit.

Yet the Bible says God loves us and doesn’t want to punish us. He gave everything to offer us a way out. He has paid, himself, what his justice demands, so he can forgive us. This is where the Christmas story starts – God entered our world, not to condemn us, but as a baby in humble settings, to sympathise with us and help us – ultimately to die in our place on the cross, paying for all our wrongs. Unbelievably, the Bible says, God himself ‘did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45)! This is how valuable we are to God and how much he loves us, though we have ignored him. 

Make a new start

God wants us to know him, and to start living life following his good instructions in the Bible. We desperately need to do this, and to take up his offer of forgiveness, to make things right between us and him, in this life and the next. Christianity is not about doing good to earn a reward or escape guilt, but simply coming to God, faults and all, to live with his help. As we do this we can start to experience the reality of his existence and help in our lives. Why not do just that this Christmas?

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Easter – What’s it all about?

She cheated on him.

He loved her. He gave her everything she could want.
But she wanted more. She wanted to be the boss.

It’s how the Easter Story starts – right back at the beginning: a story of him and her. The Bible describes it as a lover’s betrayal – but it’s talking about God and us. He created a beautiful world, perfect satisfaction of every kind, but we left him. We broke the rules. We’ve gone against the loving morals God created for life. In every unkind word, thought or action, we rebel against God.

What happened next? We cut ourselves off from the maker of the universe, and the world we see shows it – war, natural disaster, and human evil – suffering, in this life, and in the next. But …

… He didn’t give up. He didn’t owe her anything, but he loved her. She meant everything to him. He gave everything to get her back.

Wrongs cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet. But she had nothing to give to make it up to the one who had given her everything. So he sent someone to rescue her – to rescue their relationship. Someone to pay for her wrongs. And not just anyone – he paid for them himself.

Easter is the story of the greatest act of forgiveness – a man called ‘Jesus’ (meaning ‘Rescuer’), unjustly executed in AD33. His good life and teaching had created enemies with the religious hypocrits of the day. Even worse to them, he claimed to be God – something incredibly arrogant, unless it were true. But this God came not to condemn – as they were so good at doing – but to serve a human sentence, die a human death, and pay for the things that hurt him most – our wrongs.

He, she – did they meet again?
He forgave. Did she return?

The Easter Story has an open ending, we write it ourselves. Will you keep running, or will you return to the one who loves you more than anyone ever can – the one who gave everything for you – the relationship that makes us truly alive: spiritually, emotionally, physically?

Jesus died and returned from death to prove he really was God’s rescue plan – the one who could take away the sentence we have brought on ourselves. He made it possible for people to do the unthinkable, to become friends with God – forgiven and accepted, in this world and the next – not through our merit but his.

It’s Easter. Are you ready for a new start? Are you ready for a new relationship?

All of us have done wrong, and fallen short of God’s goodness. But God treats us much better than we deserve … Even when we were God’s enemies, he made peace with us, because Christ died for us. From Romans chapters 3:23 and 5:10, The Bible

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