An Incredible Story of Sacrificial Grace: Making Time for an Encounter That Changes Everything
Renee Dixon was a teacher for more than two decades before directing the Lynhurst Baptist Church Preschool for the last two years. “So many of our families don’t have money to get Christmas presents this year,” she said. “Some parents have lost their jobs; others have had their wages cut back. A lot of them already come from low-income families and are below the poverty line.”
Dixon—who has lost three family members to the coronavirus pandemic—decided she would not let any of her students go without gifts this holiday season. So, in early November, she set up a driver profile on Uber and Lyft and instituted very strict health protocols for herself and her passengers. After her school day ends, she drives until one or two in the morning, plus another twelve hours on Saturdays and six hours on Sundays.
She spends every dollar she makes on her students and their families. She has also earned enough to provide a small holiday bonus for the twelve staff members who teach at her school. She will continue driving after Christmas until all her children who need winter gear have it.
“Everything I’m doing is for these kids right now,” Dixon said. “Their world has turned upside down, and it’s no fault of their own. They deserve this from me.”
Her sacrificial compassion will remain with her students and their parents long after the Christmas season is over.
How to outlive the stars
My wife and I drove out of Dallas last night to view the “Christmas Star.” This conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will soon be gone from the night sky, but the planets and the stars will remain as they have for eons. However, even they will be gone one day (Matthew 24:29), while the One who created them and calls them by name (Psalm 147:4) continues to rule the universe he made.
The astounding good news is that those who make Christ their Savior will outlive the stars as well. Ten thousand millennia after they are gone, our eternity with our Father in his paradise will only have begun.
However, as we noted yesterday, millions of Americans are deceived into believing that such news is either unnecessary or irrelevant.
A hospice and palliative medicine physician writing in the New York Times claims that your immortality is found in the fact that you “live on in those you’ve touched, in hearts and minds.” Giving voice to the relativism of our postmodern culture, he asks, “What is death?” and responds, “Since there’s no known right answer, you can’t get it wrong. You can even make your life the answer to the question.”
Is this true? Can finite humans, apart from divine revelation and saving grace, really know what happens when we die, much less control such consequences? Is it wise to risk our eternal destiny on personal conjecture?
Pascal's "wager" and the reasonableness of faith
The French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623–62) suggested a “wager” we can adapt as follows:
Either God exists, or he does not. If we wager that he exists and thus trust him for our salvation, and we are right, we gain eternity in heaven when we die. If we are wrong, we simply die along with everyone else. If we wager that God does not exist and we are right, once again, we simply die. But if we wager that he does not exist and we are wrong, we spend eternity separated from him in hell. Thus, Pascal argued, the rational person will choose faith in God.
However, saving faith rests on more than a wager. Which is more plausible: That nothing created something, or that a Creator made the universe? That the almost infinite design of that universe occurred by random chance or by the hand of a Designer?
Is it more likely that Tacitus, Josephus, and other ancient historians who documented the facts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were wrong, or that they recorded what thousands of eyewitnesses knew to be true? That the first people to proclaim the resurrection willingly died for a lie, or that the event that miraculously transformed their lives was real?
Is it more reasonable to base our eternal destiny on our subjective opinion, or to trust the God of eternity who transcends time?
You can meet Immanuel today
While the good news of Christmas is immensely probable on rational grounds, we can do better still.
You and I cannot experience life after death until we die (assuming the Lord tarries), but we can experience today the One who will give such life to us one day. We can experience in this life the abundant life he came to provide (John 10:10) even as we await the next life and the glorious eternity he will provide.
The Christ of Christmas is Immanuel, “which means, God with us” (Matthew 1:23). He assures us, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). His manger is now our hearts. We are literally his body (1 Corinthians 12:27) as his Spirit lives in us (1 Corinthians 3:16).
As a result, we can experience Jesus as intimately and personally as did the shepherds who witnessed his birth.
But we must do what they did. We must believe that the Baby of Bethlehem is “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11), come to him in worship and wonder (vv. 15–16), then tell the good news to the world (v. 17).
If we truly meet this Savior, we can never be the same.
This week, will you allow Christmas to be an annual event, or will you make it a daily, transforming encounter with Jesus?
NOTE: For more, see my video, “What does the Bible say about eternal life?”
Publication date: December 22, 2020
Photo courtesy: Peter Fazekas/Pexels
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
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