It was Christmas Eve as I wrote this and I had been at the hospital since 7 a.m. with a friend who might not make it through the day. It was a sad day for his fiance and his family members who were able to gather together in his room, knowing the memories they had been making with this man would end probably soon.
As pastors, we do our best to comfort those who are losing or have lost a loved one. Most people do not want Christmas to be a memory of losing someone who is very dear.
In this instance, my friend is what we call a “believer,” or someone who has put their trust in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, with the promise from Him that He will secure their life after death with Him.
This makes comforting their loved ones so much easier because it is a comfort to know they will be reunited with those other loved believers that have gone to be with Jesus ahead of them. Knowing we will see them again brings us great comfort.
I have sat with believers as they have faced death and they have peace. When they have put their trust and faith in Him, the Holy Spirit gives them a peace that surpasses all understanding.
In the last couple weeks we have seen billboards around the Bay Area, as well as the 40- by- 40 digital billboard in Times Square, asking the provoking question, “Who Needs Christ at Christmas?” These have been sponsored by the American Atheists.
My simple answer is, the family I was ministering to in the hospital. Without Christ, death is a fearful thing. It is filled with sadness and grief because all hope for the future is extinguished. It is easy to ridicule God if you think you won’t die, but the stark reality is we are all dying. It is just a matter of time.
A representative of the atheist movement interviewed on the news was asked whether he was concerned concerning the possibility of offending believers, and he seemed quite pleased that could happen.
Jesus said to His followers in the book of John 15:18, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” In this sentence, “the world” refers to the part of the population that doesn’t revere Christ as Lord.
The word atheist literally means “against God.” Jesus said “you are either for Me or against Me,” there is no middle ground. The Bible tells us “God is love.” We are seeing the real “haters” beginning to stand up and be counted.
As you get ready to start the New Year, ask yourself where you would like to go when you die. Jesus offers eternal life with God the Father and Him. He gave His life on a cross to pay for the sin of all mankind. If you want His forgiveness, you need to ask Him. He loves you.
Noel Reese is the pastor at Calvary Chapel Rio Vista. He can be reached at www.calvarychapelriovista.com.