Perhaps you hugged your family outside your front door when they arrived on Thanksgiving Day. In Saudi Arabia,two men who offered "free hugs" were arrested and charged with offending public order. Or perhaps you kissed someone in public. In Morocco, two teenagers who kissed outside their school have been arrested for "violating public decency" and could be imprisoned for two years.
The creeping commercialism of our culture is lamentable, with Black Friday sales beginning on Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday extending to Cyber Everyday. But I'm grateful to live in a nation founded on the conviction that all people have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." And I'm convicted that God wants us to "seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf" (Jeremiah 29:7).
So, rather than being frustrated with the secularism of the season, let's look for ways to promote the "welfare" (shalom in Hebrew, meaning "tranquility and prosperity") of those we meet today. And let's pray to the Lord on their behalf, asking God's Spirit to reveal his Son to them through us.
When the Spirit controls and empowers us, his "fruit" is obvious to all: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). If millions of Christians around the world demonstrated such counter-cultural traits this holiday season, would the world ever be the same?
Publication date: December 3, 2013