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Yevet Tenney for Progressive Dairy Published on 11 December 2020

The glitter of Christmas shines in the windows, glistens on the snow, wafts through the airwaves in the sentimental sounds of holiday cheer.

Hallmark movies, replays of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus films interrupt the clatter of horror stories from the mainstream media. We hunker down and wish the madness would cease just for a while. We look for answers and wonder if we will ever get through this time, but we will have Christmas, and it will be the best ever. Thank heavens for online buying. We look to the internet to solve our immediate problems while the real answer lies in the Bible.

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Many Bibles sit on the shelf dust-covered and closed. The story of Christmas and the One who gave all for the salvation of His people goes unread. Oh, it is not that we want to forget, no. It is just that life on the fast track takes action and more action. There is shopping to do, gifts to buy and wrap, social media to check, children to educate, meals to prepare, laundry to do, phone calls and texts to answer, and the list goes on and on. Who has time to read and ponder? Who has time to sit down? Who has time to stop and even take notice of the true meaning of Christmas, let alone read an ancient story and try to make sense of the whole thing? After all, it is written in old English and takes time to decipher. It is easier to read a commentary, watch a re-enactment on YouTube or listen to a scholar make sense of it on the Discovery Channel.

To many, Christmas has no meaning and is becoming just another materialistic blip in the churning calendar of time. It is just Santa and reindeer, a yawn and a stretch after a feast. It’s just a moment in the rush to buy, to give, to get and to climb on the upside of the down escalator. No matter how frantically we climb, we never get to the top. Some, with the COVID scare, had a little more time – but peaceful rest is fitful and filled with worry. We wonder where to turn. Some miss the obvious: Come to Jesus.

Christ was born in a stable, grew up a lowly carpenter’s son, preached in the dusty streets and makeshift houses of an impoverished country, where He was hated and finally killed because of prejudice and jealousy on the part of those who should have been His friends. Christ’s entire life was dedicated to doing “His Father’s will.” He comforted those who needed comfort, healed those who needed healing and mourned with those who had lost loved ones. His life’s mission was to heal the sick, feed the hungry, to open the doors to the prisoner and give light to those who walked in darkness.

How different the path He walked in the hills of Galilee than the busy streets we meander through in the milling traffic of our modern world. His simple request, “Come, follow me” (Matt 4:19 KJV) seems an archaic whisper in the din of a noisy world toppling with fear of what is yet to come. His life was so simple. Ours is so bloated with complications.

What does it mean to follow Christ, and how can we do it in the modern tangle of confusion? Do you remember the childhood game Follow the Leader? You choose a leader and do exactly what he or she does. You mimic the facial expressions – the hands, arms and body movements – as you try to place your feet right in the leader’s tracks.

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Christ gave us some clues as to how to follow Him. First, you get your priorities correct. Align your compass. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33 KJV) and “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3 KJV) are the initial steps in getting it right with the “leader.” Why would Jesus want to put Himself first and expect us to follow Him? He was the perfect example. He always put His Father first. He often said, “I came … to do … the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38 KJV).

In our modern world, the first things are the most pressing things. The ringing phone, the bill collector, the salesman, the shopping, the house cleaning, all take precedence over reading the Bible and saying a humble, heartfelt prayer. The service to self takes precedence over remaining on our knees long enough to get a clear answer of what service the Lord wants us to perform today. We hear about suffering and feel a twinge of sadness but determine in the same breath that we cannot do anything. We are too busy climbing up the down escalator. Of course, we don’t call it climbing. We call it the “rat race.” The mentality of “those who die with the most toys win” will find that toys were never the answer to true happiness.

We were born to become like Christ and to do His will. We were born to bless others and leave something of value behind when we leave this life. “A world should be a little better because a man has lived.” (Quote from the movie Little Lord Fauntleroy)

Who will remember the clean kitchen? Who will remember the perfect shade of lipstick on your lips? Who will remember the fashion you wore so meticulously and the fingernails you glued on every time they broke off? Who will care about your perfectly well-set hair and mascara? Those things are ripples in a bucket of water. They last long enough for you to pull your hand out of the water before they fade away.

What eternity records as treasures are the little acts of kindness and the soft words of gratitude. It records the arms bearing the burden of a sorrowing neighbor. It records the extra miles walked in reaching out to those who have persecuted you and used you spitefully. Eternity remembers the nights spent listening to the prattle of a troubled teen who really isn’t looking for answers, just understanding. It records the open doors to your warm house and your glowing fire, and the warm bread in the hands of those who have been forgotten.

If we get the first things right, everything else will fall into place. We only have 24 hours in a day, but there are myriad chances for service and charity waiting everywhere. Sometimes it is putting a puzzle together with your child and answering their unending questions of “why.” Sometimes it is dropping whatever you are doing to text someone who is alone. Sometimes it’s noticing the person behind you in the grocery line and smiling as you offer your place in line. Maybe it’s noticing the tears in someone’s eyes peeking over their mask and saying, “This too shall pass.”

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Christmas comes once a year, but Christ didn’t do his work just on holidays. He was a 24-7 man. He was always willing to give up His comfort to provide comfort to those around Him. His sleep was interrupted by fearful disciples, yet not one angry word. He stood and calmed the storm. Five thousand hungry people were not sent away to fend for themselves, and water was turned into wine so the hostess would not be embarrassed. I’m sure there were times when the crowds pressed around Him with selfish demands, disinterested curiosity and the Pharisees’ and the Sadducees’ trick questions were annoying and frustrating, but Christ never turned anyone away with a rude or unkind comment. His words often cut to the very center of the heart of the wicked, but Christ was never intentionally unkind. He always put first things first.

The injunction to “Come, follow me,” wasn’t meant just for Christmastime. It is to be practiced every day, even when the election didn’t go our way. Even when COVID steals some of our Christmas joy. Even when we must wear a mask or stay inside. “Come, follow me,” is a way of life. It means putting off selfish pursuits and finding time for things that really matter and making other people and God’s kingdom our priority.  end mark

Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writes about faith, family and freedom.

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