I heard one of the most encouraging Christmas messages I have ever heard tonight. As I have mentioned, I am in place right now that tempts me to feel sorry for myself, to doubt God, to wonder why. I have not lived the most righteous life, and although it is sometimes tempting to be proud of the fact that I have been "a good girl" most of my life, I have learned that this source of pride that is is in me (among many other sins!) is most unpleasing to my Savior. It is what often keeps me separated from Him as I try in my own power to be "good" and not to rely on His grace for my justification in God's sight. Nevertheless, I would never have expected that I would struggle with so much hurt and disappointment and loss in my life. Isn't that usually a consequence for those who are rebellious, and disbedient, and wild?
Tonight our Christmas message focused on the cross of Christ. Odd for a Christmas message, but it was so amazing to be brought to the remembrance of why THE Baby was born in the first place. One of the things our pastor shared was the impression of Jerusalem that visitors received when they arrived in ancient times. As they arrived, the glory of the temple dazzled them. It was created to reflect the light of the sun, glistning and gleaming with a bright light. The sight would have awed visitors. But as they entered the city, the tremendous numbers of livestock being slaughtered daily for sacrifices would have filled the air with the stench of blood, an awful, revolting odor. Two senses in one city, with very different messages. Glory and disgust. Righteousness and sin.
As I considered this message, I thought much about my own life. Some would like to have us believe that once you are a Christian, life is redeemed to the level that all the problems of sin are now surmountable-that in this life we can have pain-free, financially secure, always victorious lives. "But do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?" Like the original temple it is necessary that our bodies reveal to the world around us the dual message of the Gospel. They need to smell the stench of sin affecting our lives, the stench that Jesus faced as He went to the cross. At the same time, they need to see the glory of our God reflected off our lives. Both senses must be experienced by those around us to witness to them of the power of our God. So it is with my life. Battered and broken by sin-my own , that of others, and even by more general things like sin's consequences of death and decay-my life reveals how disgusting sin is to a holy God. Yet I hope that my life reflects not just a little of His glory, but reflects it brightly, blindingly. I hope others are drawn to His majesty in spite of the stench of sin and its effects.