But, come back on January 3 and you might get a whole row to yourself. Quickly forgotten like the present wanted so badly as a child, but cast aside once received, the reality of Jesus isn’t quite so appealing as the expectation of Him—adorned in beloved Christmas music, sparkly lights and festive trimmings.
C&E Christians, as they’re called, fill churches to overflowing on Christmas and Easter but stay away the rest of the year. I know these people well—because for many years I was one of them. Filled with a sense of tradition, familiarity and sentimentality I never missed a Christmas Eve service. But I couldn’t be bothered to return in January…or February…or March (unless it was Easter).
Yet even though I stayed away 50 out of 52 Sundays, I think I (and most C&Eers) went for one reason. There was something about the baby that made me want to believe. But time and again the “yeah buts” got in my way and I couldn't.
We all have our own "yeah, buts." They’re the roadblocks thrown up that block our path of faith, cause us to detour and sometimes keep us from even getting started. Faced with the truth of Jesus doubt/intellect/fear/pride replies, “Yeah, but.”
…Christianity is only one way of many ways to get to God.
…It was easier for the disciples to believe because they saw Jesus.
…A loving God wouldn’t allow so much suffering.
…The Bible was written so long ago and doesn’t really apply to life today.
…I’m a good person.
…I’ve done things that God could never forgive.
…I can be a Christian and not go to church.
…I have nothing special to offer.
…I’ve stayed away too long.
…I’m too busy to go to church on Sunday/attend a small group/volunteer/read my Bible.
For so long I felt an inner tug toward Jesus, but couldn’t get past my “yeah buts.” Yet God didn’t give up on me. Eventually He brought me to a place where I could set aside my biggest roadblock—my skepticism. When I did, He gave me eyes to see and I met Jesus as if for the very first time. Seven years later I can’t imagine life any other way.
Faith isn't easy. There’s a lot about God that’s fuzzy and hard to understand. But some things are crystal clear. God, the creator of the universe, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-everything, didn’t just snap His fingers and make it so, He came down to earth as a helpless little baby to live among us. To be one of us. And He didn’t chose royalty as would have been fitting, He chose common, overlooked, lowly. All because He loves us.
Doesn’t this blow your mind?
But, the hope and excitement of the baby is just the beginning of the story. To pay our respects and leave Bethlehem is to miss the best part. Jesus was born, lived and died for you…and for me—no matter who we are, when we live or what we’ve done (for better or worse).
ALL have sinned.
ALL are invited to receive the gift of Jesus.
ALL are forgiven.
ALL will have eternal life.
“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)
Amazing grace. It’s a gift we can’t earn and one we don’t deserve. But when we accept it, there’s no “yeah buts” about it!