It's been quite the build up: you’ve put out decorations, you’ve planned events, you’ve purchased gifts, and many of you have prepared meals. Let’s take the next few moments to ensure you can enjoy Christmas.
One of the first decorations I think about during this season is the nativity set, a miniature manger filled with characters from the first Christmas story. Although they’re intended to paint the picturesque night of Christ’s birth, as a kid I saw them as nothing more than toys.
- When I was very young the nativity was the perfect site for Old McDonald’s farm
- When I was a bit older it became a base for Army men
- And then a few years later it became the ultimate toy… Jurassic Park - sheep are the perfect snack for a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
I was thinking about all those years and all the different ways I’d rearrange the nativity and it got me thinking: When Jesus isn’t the center of the nativity, the story changes quite a bit.
The staple of every nativity is Jesus; He’s the center of attention. Every other character is fashioned to look upon Him. And rightfully so, I mean without Jesus this isn’t the greatest blessing; it’s a barn. Without Jesus there is no reason to celebrate, it's just a stable. Without Jesus this isn’t the story of a God who loved us so much that He stepped out of eternity into humanity so that He could become one of us and die for us all so that He could always be with us.
Nativities, like life, are designed for Jesus to be the center. And when He isn’t the center the whole focus changes. For example:
- If the wise men were the center, the focus moves from a savior to the pursuit of our successes. Wise men were the most accomplished and wealthy of their day. They had everything yet they were still searching for something.
That’s so many of us. We have so much yet we’re unsatisfied; still searching for significance in promotions, connections, and collections. The wise men are the picture of the man who focused his whole life on climbing to the top of the ladder only to realize, once he was at the top, that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.
- If Joseph and Mary were at the center, then the focus moves from a redeemer to our relationships. Relationships are great; God created them for us to enjoy. But for some people that’s all life is about. They’re searching to fill a deep longing for intimacy that only God can give. You can see it in the rotation of relationships: friend after friend, boyfriend after boyfriend, spouse after spouse. Anytime we place an expectation meant for God on someone else we’re guaranteeing that relationship fails.
- Finally, imagine if the shepherds were the center. The focus would move from Christ’s sufficiency to our insecurities. During the first century, shepherds were the bottom of the society. They were seen as less than, not good enough. They wore a label that constantly reminded them of their issues. There’s no doubt there are some who can only see their label of addict, divorced, unemployed, alone, abused, or broken. The focus of their life has become what’s wrong with their life.
You see, like the nativity scene, life doesn’t work when Jesus isn’t at the center.
- Pursuit of success alone leaves us unsatisfied.
- Relationships are rewarding but also limited.
- And too many let life revolve around their regret; wasting all the good God still wants to do in their life.
The message of the nativity is ONLY Jesus should be the center piece!
Only Jesus can deliver true significance to your soul. Only in Jesus will you find a relationship that lasts forever. Only Jesus knows all your failures; loves you in spite of them and makes an incredible future from them.
This is not just an opinion; it’s a spiritual truth wired into your very being. We were created by God and He designed us with a sort of indicator for when Jesus is not at the center of our life. When there is an area of your life where Jesus is off center a warning goes off. Do you know what it is? It’s a lack of peace.
The short of 2 Peter 1:2 is that the more you know Christ, the more He is the center, the more peace you have.
In life, worry is a warning light. When you worry about finances, it's because Jesus isn't the center of your finances. Some worry about family issues. There is no peace because Jesus isn’t the center of your family. For others, the place of anxiety is your marriage or school. For some it’s work. It doesn’t matter the place. Stress and fear are indicators of a place Jesus isn’t center.
So, how do you make Jesus the center? Anytime you send prayer UP; God sends PEACE down. There are over 790 verses about the peace of God in Scripture. Whatever problem you have, God has a corresponding peace.
- For those with a broken heart, He gives us comforting peace.
- For those with a confused heart, He gives us guiding peace.
- For those when we have a guilty heart, He gives us forgiving peace.
- God has a peace for every one of your problems.
All you have to do is ask!
Where in your life are you lacking peace? Where do you need to be honest and say, ‘What I’m doing isn’t working’? Where do you need to make Jesus the center-peace of your life? Take a real look and then ask God for help. Send the prayer up, and He will send peace down.