“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:6-7a NIV)
The glorious news of Christmas is that we have a Savior that is the sovereign head over all. The light of the world has pierced the darkness and we have hope that his reign ushers in a new realm of possibility. We celebrate the hope, peace, joy and love that accompany his arrival. We recognize that he is much more than a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. He really is “God with us!”
Christmas reminds me that the responsibility for maintaining “government” does not belong to me. As a leader, sometimes I forget the “government” is shouldered by Christ. I am yoked with Christ, but not as a co-supporter. Being yoked with Christ does not mean that I am there to help Jesus shoulder the workload. I am yoked to Christ so that I can learn from him. The real proof of discipleship occurs when we put into practice the things we have learned from Christ.
In the infant stages of the early church some folks were looking for the dynamic that caused such a radical change in the early believers. What caused these unschooled, ordinary men and women to show boldness and courage in the face of adversity? The ones raising the questions summed up the difference in Acts 4:13, “… they took note that they had been with Jesus.”
The New Year is upon us. As we prepare to celebrate and welcome another year, with all of it’s potential, I find myself being challenged, “do folks know that I have been with Jesus?” Has the advent of Christ reshaped and changed me in such a manner that I have become an expression and an extension of his government?
One of the exciting things about the Christmas season and the beginning of a new year is the reminder that we can begin again. Starting over and making mid-course corrections is an essential part of our faith journey. Those that fail to take spiritual inventory or employ a systematic method for spiritual self-examination that poses the question, “do folks know that I have been with Jesus?” are often lulled into a position of false security. The Apostle Paul encourages others to only follow him as he follows Christ.
My hope is to be a disciple that learns and uses the lessons gleaned from Jesus to make a difference in 2018. Our denomination and our world need a fresh dose of the hope, peace, joy and love that accompanied the arrival of Emmanuel. My personal goal for 2018 is to lift-up Jesus in such a way that folks are once again attracted to him and to the way of life that he offers.
My prayer for the IGRC is that God will deepen our walk with Jesus and allow us to make a greater difference in 2018. The government of Christ has no end. His rule and reign know no bounds. The good news is that he offers grace and peace to all. Let us do all that we can to become conduits of the love and grace of Jesus Christ that we are called to be in this New Year.