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What is This all About?

December 15, 2011

Generally in our house…not all the time…but a lot of the time…we read with our kids at night.  And this time of year that means a lot of Christmas themed books.  Some of them involve Santa and the elves, some are about random animals and their holiday experiences, and some of them are actually about the birth of Christ…albeit, it’s probably from the point of view of a donkey.  Now a couple of nights ago, as my daughter and I were reading together, we got to sort of the crescendo of the book…the bottom line…this is what it is all about…and the main character said, “Christmas is about family.”  The whole book was summed up in that statement. 

 I hope you have a chance, and I hope you’ll take a moment, and read through Daniel 2:1-30.

 One of the things that I genuinely appreciate about Daniel is that he made decisions.  He sought the counsel of God and he made decisions.  We live in a culture today that is tragically indecisive.  People don’t want to make decisions…we don’t want responsibility…and nobody wants to be the one who is held accountable.  So, in the end, specifically for the Christian, we are often crippled by fear, and our faith is nothing more than a Sunday morning activity.  Daniel didn’t operate that way.  And we see it in verse 16, “Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time that he might show the interpretation to the king.”  The very next thing he does is go to pray with his boys about it.  Daniel, by faith, made decisions. 

 But what led to this decision?  For the sake of space, I’ll just give it to you.  In a very real sense, it was the idolatry of King Nebuchadnezzar that ultimately led to Daniel making this decision.  You see, in the early verses of this chapter, from verse 2 through 9, this man is establishing what I would simply call, “lordship.”  He is making it known that in order to receive good things you have to do what he wants…and if you don’t do what he wants…you get bad stuff.  And it’s interesting how he begins, because if you look closely, in the text, he actually begins with the negative outcome.  He says, “If you do not…”  He doesn’t begin with the positive results, but rather, the negative implications…being torn limb from limb.

 And this is the promise of every false God.  The idols in our lives, the “Counterfeit Gods” as Tim Keller calls them, always hold their power over us through fear.  We are controlled, not by the promise of the good…but by the fear of the detrimental.  In Nebuchadnezzar’s world, he is the supreme being…he is the idol…and his expectations are made very clear.  You do what I want or it will go very bad for you.  His idolatry was squarely focused on himself.

 We took that book back to the store.  Seriously…the one from the top of the page…the very next day, my wife took it back and got a different one for our kids.  And listen, we’re not some crazy fundamentalists…we just have an expectation for truth in our house and I don’t want to mislead my kids.  Because here is my reality; I love my family.  I’ll even go a step further; I love my family too much.  And listen, I’m not looking for a parenting award or anything…no brownie points…I’m just telling you, in all honesty, that one of the great struggles in my life is learning that they don’t actually belong to me.  They easily become an idol for me.  It’s undeniable that our families are important.  They are to be cherished, and loved, and all those good things (yes and amen).  But our families are not to be lord in our lives.  Christmas is about the coming of the King.  It is about the coming of the Savior.  Christmas is about the coming of the true Lord.  And we can only serve one.  I want my kids to know that I love them…and that the One who loves them most came to earth to save them…and Christmas is to celebrate that.

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