Today is Christmas Eve. Christmas is a historical time when the Old Testament was replaced by the New Testament. People all over the world (not only Christians, but also Muslims, Buddhists, and even atheists) are celebrating Christmas. However, do people really know what Christmas means? Why do we celebrate Christmas? The significance of Christmas is knowing that there is a God in the universe, and He loves us so much that He sent His son, who was crucified for our sins, to this world. Jesus completed our salvation, and we are cleaned and purified by His Holy Blood. He fulfilled the laws of the Old Testament, and the same time established the New Testament which marked a time of grace.
We all believe that God is loving and merciful. Yet, many of us failed to learn the true purpose of God. It is as if we study the Bible without understanding the truth. Satan often uses this trick to confuse us so that we do things our way and lose sight of God’s standard. Sometimes when God asks people to go east in order to get to their destination, people think that going southeast is good enough, and they never reach their goal.
“People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). We all have to face death, and the Bible keeps reminding us of the judgment in the future. The judge won’t be anyone on earth; it will be the eternal God! If we know the truth, we would realize that most important principle is that it is better to displease man than to offend God. And yet, the Bible teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves. How do we love people and please God at the same time? The event in Joshua 22 provides a very clear answer.
Under Joshua’s lead, the twelve tribes of Israel fought all the battles. When the battles were over, the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh went back to the east side of Jordan River where their inheritances lay. Because they were afraid that their decedents might turn away from God, and that the offspring of the other nine-and-a-half tribe might not know their decedents, they built an imposing altar on their side of the river to show that they are also in awe of God; however, it caused a huge misunderstanding among the tribes. The intention of building the altar was good, but it still caused a terrible misunderstanding. In our lives and our services in church, similar situation happens all the time. This is why communication is so important! Also, the attitude of both party is equally significant. The leader, in addition, needs to be wise in his/her guidance and judgement so that these kinds of situations can be dealt with effectively.
God says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).
My dear brothers and sisters, let us obey every word we hear from God! Let us build our lives on the foundation of a solid rock!