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“all the streets are filled with laughter and light
and the music of the season
and the merchant’s windows all are bright
with the faces of the children
and the families hurry into their homes
as the sky darkens and freezes
we’ll be gathering around our hearths and tables
giving thanks for God’s graces
and the birth of the rebel Jesus

o they call Him by the Prince of Peace
and they call Him by the Savior
and they pray to Him upon the seas
and in every bold endeavor
and they fill His churches with their pride and gold
as their faith in Him increases
but they’ve turned the nature that i worship in
from a temple to a robber’s den
in the words of the rebel Jesus

we guard our world with locks and guns
and we guard our fine possessions
and once a year when Christmas comes
we give to our relations
and perhaps we give a little to the poor
if the generosity should seize us
but if any one of us should interfere
in the business of why they are poor
they get the same as the rebel Jesus

but pardon me if i have seemed
to take the tone of judgment
for i’ve no wish to come between
this day and your enjoyment
in a life of hardship and of earthly toil
there’s a need for anything that frees us
so i bid you pleasure
and i bid you cheer
from a heathen and a pagan
on the side of the rebel Jesus..”

~ “the rebel Jesus”.. by jackson browne

These words cause me to stop and consider life and how I live it.. I think sometimes those who don’t believe have a better understanding, in a way, of Jesus than His followers do. That’s not always the case, or even most of the time.. but just sometimes.

Because if we call Him by all the “right” names and pray to Him when we think we’re doing something brilliantly good for Him.. and when we turn church into a place where everybody puts up an appearance and we fill it with pride and gold.. then we’ve lost the point.. and I think that is captured in the words of the song above.

Following Jesus has never been about all that stuff. It isn’t about giving a little to the poor if we happen to take the notion to do so or about giving to family just because it’s Christmas. Generosity needs to be genuine.. otherwise it isn’t really generosity, no matter what we try to call it.

All too often we look just like the Pharisees in the Bible. The stuck-up teachers who thought and acted as though they were better than everybody else. They believed that following the law down to the letter was more important than the reasons WHY we obey.

Yes.. doing good is important. But so is having the right motives and priorities behind those good actions.

Those observing us can tell. They can see when we mean what we say versus when we’re not genuine. Truly caring about others goes so far. It makes such a difference in their lives and in our own. And that caring attitude — or lack of it — can help determine others’ views and beliefs about God and what they do as a result.

Just something to think about as you go about life. Thanksgiving and Christmas both are coming up soon, and I think sometimes that makes it almost easier to not even realize what we’re doing. When we busy ourselves with everything happy, it’s so easy to not notice the hurt in others or to just ignore their need. It’s easier to give something “just because you’re supposed to” rather than because you want to extend God’s love to someone and introduce them to Him.

Jesus came to live on earth in ways so opposite to how we often act. It’s why the Pharisees hated Him so much. He did what was right in such a genuine way that drew people to Him. The Pharisees wanted attention and rewards for the good they did. Jesus just wanted to love people, and that’s what He did… and when we honestly love people like Him, the rest flows from that love. (Romans 13:8-10)

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Please keep on praying for Jon and his family.. and catch up with his story if you haven’t already! Your prayers are so very much appreciated!