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By Grant Everly
For some reason I found myself reading in Romans chapter one on Christmas Eve; I know, it’s quite a strange place to be on such a night. At the end of Romans 1, Paul talks about God’s wrath, a concept we often like to avoid embracing and discussing. As most of us would, I found myself growing increasingly uncomfortable as Paul rattled off sin after sin, discussing how much disdain God has toward our rebellion. The icing on the cake for me was the final verse of the chapter in which Paul states, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” Romans 1:32
Don’t get me wrong, having accepted God’s gift of salvation, I truly strive to avoid “continuing to do” the things I have since repented from, but I found myself struck by the times in which I’m nonchalant in regard to God’s “decrees,” and couldn’t help but see myself and our sin-saturated culture in the words of verse 32.
It’s all to easy to brush the reality of sin aside; we can often convince ourselves that some sins “really aren’t that bad,” that sin is sometimes “excusable,” but what God has been teaching me a lot lately is that His commands and standards are to be taken quite seriously. There is no room for nonchalance or a haphazard approach when it comes to serving God. We’re either all in, striving to never succumb to sin, or we chose to serve something other than Christ. Now that is not to say that we are either perfect or going to hell. We know that imperfection is certain, but this is not an excuse to lack in resolve and intensity in pursuing holiness, and I feel this is a reality that was made even more clear given the time of year we currently find ourselves in.
I don’t know about you, but for me it seems like Jesus becomes a little bit more “real” around Christmas and Easter. It’s at these times that it’s even more apparent that Christ wasn’t just some historical figure who walked around the Middle East. At Christmas I’m reminded that Christ was a real person who came as a real baby, and at Easter I’m reminded that Christ lived a very real life that ultimately culminated in a real death, characterized by real pain and real agony and motivated by real radical love. In light of Christ’s real person, the times in which I blatantly chose to live contrary to his will seem like an absolute slap in the face to the God of the universe; when Christ becomes a living and breathing baby laying in a manger, it’s a whole lot harder to look with indifference at the areas in which we struggle, and furthermore, when I take the time to be reminded of Christ’s sacrificial death on a cross, it becomes much more difficult to overlook the sin in my life. Christ’s coming truly does change the complexion of our relationship with God and allows us to see our sin as something that shouldn’t be tolerated.
So I don’t know about you, but in the continuation of this Christmas season, and hopefully throughout all seasons, I’m choosing to live with resolve. I don’t want to let the coming of a baby in a manger to be done in vain, and thus am choosing to live intentionally and sincerely for Him. Not out of guilt, but out of gratefulness as a result of the best gift to ever be given.
Grant Everly is a senior at Warren Township High School and regularly attends church with his family and iMPACT on Sunday nights. He plays soccer, enjoys sports and has passion for learning more about Christ and growing in Him.