Beginning the New Year with Christ[mas]

Written by Suzannah Miller / January 2017


The new year is underway. Maybe you began the year with new resolutions and expectations, or maybe with anticipation of the challenges of returning to school or work. Maybe you were frustrated with the amount you accomplished in the previous year or maybe you were concerned with the attitudes and obstacles Christians may face in the coming years. What better way to start the new year than with the Christmas message fresh in our memory? More than just recounting the birth of a baby in a stable, Christmas reminds us that we have a Savior who has already saved us from our sins. With the new year under way, we may have to leave behind the cozy Christmas fireplace, extra time with family, and the respite from our daily routine, but we carry with us the knowledge that Christ came so that man could have peace with God.

If you attend a secular university, follow the news, or use social media, you will encounter people that tell you directly or indirectly that your beliefs are wrong. In fact, it’s probably close to a constant struggle.

The fact that we have forgiveness through Christ’s death on the cross can never be understated. We no longer face eternity in hell, and we can look forward to spending eternity with God in heaven. But what about the day-to-day challenges? What about the conflicts Christian’s face living in 2017? Christ’s birth at Christmas and his crucifixion are not just part of God’s solution to our ultimate spiritual problem, they are reminders of God’s unending love that still continues to go with us today. As Paul writes:

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

…Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Rom. 8:32, 35)

Illustration by Timothy Schaser

In other words, the God who has already given Himself for us and has already forgiven our sins will continue to provide for us every day. When we feel weighed down by criticism and mockery of our beliefs—that Christians are ignorant, unscientific, intolerant, and restricted by outdated morals—it helps to stop and remember that we have a Savior that not only paid for our sins but actually lives in us, fills us with His love, strengthens, and equips us.

The world tends to view the Christian faith as simplistic. Christians appear to center their entire belief system around “stories” such as a helpless, cute baby born in the presence of farm animals. This baby became a man who taught an interesting message which started a following that had a pretty substantial impact on Western history. However, as Christians we see past the weak baby to see the power of God working through the Bible to reveal the mystery of His plan for our salvation. As we progress through the church year toward Lent and Easter, reviewing Christ’s life on earth can serve as a reminder that we have a God of wisdom who has chosen “the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (1 Cor. 1:27)”.

If you attend a secular university, follow the news, or use social media, you will encounter people that tell you directly or indirectly that your beliefs are wrong. In fact, it’s probably close to a constant struggle. As I continue to wrestle with differences between popular beliefs and Christianity, I’ve been reminded that our beliefs are not founded on our own whims, intuition, or upbringing; they are founded on the Word of God—the ultimate authority on what is true and right. Our God is a God of power and wisdom and love. He is with us every moment in every place. He is with us now. The blessings we have through Him are so much more than the world can ever offer:

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. (Col. 2:8-10.)