My wife Rowena and I just got back from a week of holidays on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Christmas is a big thing in Hawaii. In Hawaii, Christmas is actually called Christmas and Christmas trees are called Christmas trees. While we didn’t see many manger scenes, there were lots of Christmas decorations and lots of Santa’s around. We even saw a Santa serenading people with his violin on Waikiki Beach. What really surprised us was how many churches we saw as we drove around the island, and how much we heard about Jesus in the Christmas music we heard and the program we watched at the Luau we went to.
At a time when Canada and the United States are removing any vestiges of Jesus and God from public places, it was refreshing and surprising to hear songs about Jesus our Savior in public places.
However, we should not really be surprised when Jesus is rejected. Right from birth, Jesus was rejected. When Herod heard of Jesus’ birth, he saw Him not as a savior, but a threat, and tried to have Him killed (Matthew 2). Early on in His ministry, the teachers of the law rejected Him (Matthew 9:1-8). Even his own brothers rejected Him and did not believe in Him.
After Jesus was crucified, his followers who dared to share his message met with similar responses. Stephen was a contemporary of Jesus and was the first Christian Martyr. He was stoned to death because of his witness to Christ his Savior. It is believed that most of Jesus’ twelve disciples were also martyred for their faith. The International Bulletin of Missionary Research (Vol. 33, No. 1: 32) estimated that approximately 176,000 Christians were martyred from mid-2008 to mid-2009.
God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to pay the debt that none of us could pay. By and large, His gift has been met with scorn and derision. Despite this fact, we are called to continue to share the truth of Christmas that:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.