The wrong answer

One of the most profound questions ever asked came from someone who got the answer wrong. Daily decisions constantly force us to choose between the immediate and the urgent, the easy and the best, the godly and the worldly. Some questions apply only to a singular event. “What’s for dinner?” “What’s your name?” “How much time do we have?” Other questions require repeating. “Am I doing the right thing?” “How do we plan for the future?” Sometimes we get the answer wrong because our motivation is wrong. Sometimes we get the wrong answer because our goals are wrong.

Because we live in a fallen world, we will always struggle with the space between how things are and how things ought to be. As I watch our culture decorate itself for Christmas, I was struck by a question in my Bible that leaped off the page at me this morning.

What then shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ? Matt 27:22

This question was posed by Pilate in the Easter story. Pilate’s answer to this question was to choose the easy way out and crucify a man he knew wasn’t guilty. Pilate had the wisdom to ask the right question, but he did not have the courage or strength of character to choose the right answer. But as I look as Pilate’s dilemma, I find that I still struggle with the same question. There are days I can’t find the courage to be obedient. There are moments when I want the easy way, rather than the right way. There are times when I’m so focused on my needs that all I want from Jesus is a “quick fix”. When I pray, I do more talking than listening. And somehow in my day, he gets lost among my tasks and to do list. I know he is God incarnate, the messiah Christ, but my response to that identity is to sublimate him into my control and schedule. Pilate stood face to face with God and made the wrong choice about who was in charge. So do I.

Our culture used to celebrate Christmas. Now we cover our stores and our homes with glitter and shine and lights. Our decorations now have more to do with Santa and reindeer and elves than the holy family. Our entire retail industry is focused on the Christmas shopping season. We spend more money than we have to buy presents that aren’t necessary. Even the name of Christmas has been made more politically correct. What began with Jesus’ name transformed to “Xmas” and now “winter holidays”.

How exactly does Jesus fit into your Christmas? I love decorating my home for Christmas. From the candles in the windows to the ornaments on my tree that never fail to bring tears as I remember the history of each one, I have Christmas traditions and decorations that are so precious to me. But the purpose of each should be to lead me to worship. How much of your Christmas includes worship? Jesus is not a side story or supplemental detail. He is the reason for Christmas. He is the celebration of a merciful God who sent a baby to save the world. May your answer to Pilate’s question lead you to worship, and may you find joy and peace in his presence.