Be like Scrooge this Christmas
(this is a guest post by Paul Lintott)
Ebenezer Scrooge: [in tears] Ebenezer Scrooge! Oh please Spirit, no! Hear me, I, I am not the man I was! Why would you show me this if I am past all hope?...
For a long time I managed to avoid seeing the Muppet Christmas Carol thinking that it was all probably a bit silly and nothing like the original book but a few years ago I watched it with the family and absolutely loved it. It is of course the same central idea, the story of a man who is brought face to face with his own cruelty and sin and through that vision comes to repentance and change.
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What a wonderful theme to celebrate at Christmas; not simply having a warm heart, but rather the arrival of a baby who comes to bring change.
One of the New Testament characters who came to see this baby in such a different light was the apostle Paul. His hatred for Christ and the people who followed him (Christians) was infamous. He was there approving when one of the disciples was executed and he actively pursued others to have them locked up . All until one day he came face to face with Jesus and, like Ebenezer Scrooge, saw for the first time what he himself really was.
One of the sad parts of the Christmas account that contrasts so painfully with that is the story of Herod. Herod did NOT see who the baby was, not really. All he saw was a problem, a threat, someone who might upset the balance of power and so his reaction to Jesus was one of unrestrained violence. Wouldn’t it have been an amazing thing if Herod had caught a glimpse of what he was and what his actions meant? But instead of change there was hardness and hatred.
And with both of those men, Paul and Herod, there is Jesus right at the centre, either rejection and murder or repentance and change, love and peace.
Take a look at your own heart this Christmas and ask yourself the question “what response does Jesus provoke in me?” Am I stubbornly closing my eyes and hoping he will go away? Am I missing the point entirely and seeing only the cuteness of it all? Or am I seeing the wonder of God come down to earth to rescue someone like me, someone who needs his grace and forgiveness?
Scrooge’s words are in some ways an echo of the Apostle Paul’s experience
Scrooge says “I am not the man I was”
Paul says “In the past I spoke against Christ and persecuted him and did all kinds of things to hurt him. But God showed me mercy...”
Isn’t that a great story of change? “But God showed me mercy”