A small crowd of perhaps a hundred gathered for the tree lighting. Four strands of multicolored lights ran up the 40-foot fir. The air was festive and the mood light. Christmas songs were sung off-key while boys and girls eyes roved frantically for Santa. One after another dignitaries walked forward and gave their remarks. Then the emcee asked the Chaplain to give the blessing.
If they expected a short, generic prayer before the lights were lit, they were disappointed. Paul reminded them why God sent His Son, Jesus to earth. He spoke of love and the real reason Christmas is celebrated. He tied the season to the Savior while skillfully untying the commercial knot that strangles the Babe in a manger. Then Paul bowed his head and prayed. He asked God to bless each person with His grace and ended his prayer with the name of Christ Jesus.
Psalm 22:6-8--But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by people. Everyone who sees me mocks me; they sneer and shake their heads: “He relies on the Lord; let Him rescue him; let the Lord deliver him, since He takes pleasure in him.”
If looks could obliterate life, Paul was slain repeatedly. He strayed from the politically correct “Happy Holidays,” to invoking a “Merry Christmas.” Instead of praying to a generic god all could enjoy he invoked Jesus’ name. He dared to shift the focus from an overweight man in red with his popular large bag to a controversial Messiah. The horror! Did twisted smiles and rigid body language reveal thoughts like, “Oh, this man is a fool. Does he really think anyone believes this religious nonsense!”
If you think scorn is dead, try taking a public stand for Jesus. Increasingly, people do not want to hear that Name above all names. In some ways, it is easier to be shot than to be scorned. Scorn infers dislike or contempt. Most of us want to be liked so to put ourselves in a place where we may face derision or disdain is too tough. Who wants to be contemptible? It’s easier to take a bullet and be done than to live with the daily ridicule of people who surround us at home, at work and at play.
Jesus regularly endured condescending mockery from influential religious leaders to proclaim His Deity and purpose. They hated Him! In their fury they honed scorn to cries for His crucifixion. They reveled in His pain as twisted thorns were thrust down His brow. He took it all because His mission to save us outweighed His need to preserve His divine dignity. His example transcends power.
Scorn is a sure revealer of sinful pride. When we refuse to stand for Jesus because we fear the cost of being maligned we unwittingly reveal disdain for the very One who died for us. Thus to avoid scorn is to scorn. To be accepted by those who reject God is to reject the very God wholongs to make us acceptable. May God help us say boldly with the Apostle Paul,“ For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
©2003 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)