24 November 2017

Christmas from a New Perspective

If you are unemployed at Christmas for the first time this year – or for the first time in many years – I suppose you’re looking at Christmas from a new perspective. (If you’ve had any other major life events this past year, you’re looking at Christmas from a new perspective too.)

When your life and career are rockin’ and rollin’ along it’s easy to say something like, “Money is nice, but it’s not what makes me happy; I could live on a lot less.” Or maybe something more like this: “Being a manager in a well-known company and having over 20 years of service is nice, but it’s not what makes me happy; I would be content no matter what my circumstances.”

Now that you’ve hit an inevitable bump in your life and career, maybe those words don’t ring so true anymore. If they don’t, I encourage you to listen to the disquiet spirit within you to figure out what it’s saying. The message is important; it’s up to you whether you listen and take heed.

When I hit a rough spot in my life and career, my prideful gets self dashed against the rocks and pounded by the waves. I learn not only to look at Christmas from a new perspective, but at all of life from a new perspective. I am being transformed by the renewing of my mind. (Notice the present tense here; I have a long way to go.)

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what’s God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2

The pattern of this world is “success.” The world measures success in titles, degrees, income, houses, cars, toys, vacations, children and spouses. In Joy That Lasts, Gary Smalley describes how his life changed when he hit a rough spot: “For the first time I began to realize my major mistake: I was expecting to find fulfillment in people, places, possessions and position.”

The pattern of God’s kingdom is “significance.” Life is about moving from success to significance. It’s about moving from the sinful, human nature that is within all of us – toward a higher, Godlier nature. I wrote this a few years ago when I was struggling with this issue:

Christmas isn’t about the money we spend; it’s about the time we spend with God.
It’s not about the gifts we give; it’s about the love we give to one another.
It’s not about preparing our homes for guests; it’s about preparing our hearts for Christ.

– – – – – – –

Arriving at Christmas without a job is one more mile on your journey of faith, one more step in your sanctification process, one more call from God asking you to allow him into your heart – or into the deeper recesses of your heart. In Ephesians 4:22-24 Paul said, “Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Here are three quick points from Paul’s words above:

1. Put off your old self.

He lists deceitful desires elsewhere in his letters; they include: anger, greed (which he says is idolatry), selfish ambition, lust and envy. (These five desires are selected from Galatians 5:19-21 and Colossians 3:5.) Referring to these desires in his song, “The Change,” Steven Curtis Chapman sings, “I got this way of living that I have to die to every single day.” Chapman says that even though he’s a Christian, he still has to suppress his human nature every single day.

2. Adopt a new attitude.

Be less like Eeyore…

You may have to fake it ’til you make it, but put on the best attitude you possibly can (except with God and about three close confidants). Nobody wants to hire Eeyore, so stop acting like him and start acting a little more like Tigger. Follow Paul’s instruction in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

3. Put on the new self.

… and more like Tigger.

Here’s where the growth occurs. God speaks to us through our feelings. If we are experiencing negative feelings, he is showing us an area for growth. As we grow we become more like Christ, as Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” As we grow we are transformed in Christ’s likeness.

Christmas is about God’s presence in our lives. He sent his Son, born a lowly birth, to live and die as one of us, a perfect example for all mankind. Take the three steps above; you will begin to experience God’s peace and feel his presence in this Christmas season. Here are two final words for this week from Paul:

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” – Romans 8:5-8

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13

See you on Friday at JobSeekers, where life and joy and hope and peace and power abound.

Copyright © 2016 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved

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