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Responses To Christ!

Judges 13:8: "Teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born."

On the coming Sundays, we will sing Christmas hymns and read the Christmas Scriptures.
We will climb the slope that leads up to Bethlehem.
The time draws near for the birth of Christ.
"What shall we do unto the child that shall be born?"

The Book of Judges records of the day when an angel of the Lord visited Manoah and his wife.
The angel told them that they were to expect a child.

It was an awesome responsibility to be the parents of such a child.
Manoah prayed that God would give them a special measure of grace and guidance.
He also prayed that God would prepare them to properly receive this baby whose destiny would be so dramatic.
Therefore they asked, "What shall we do unto the child that shall be born?"

So the child Samson came into the world.
He grew up and lived and loved and battled and died.

Centuries later, the angel of the Lord returned.
God was ready to send another Deliverer to His people. Only His Philistines would not be the warring tribe that Samson battled. It was a marvelous, divine strategy that laid this Child in a manger in Bethlehem.
And imagine the immense responsibility of those who received this Gift into their midst. More than 20 centuries have passed since then, and still at Christmastime, Jesus draws near, and we face |the same critical challenge and question: "What shall we do unto the child that shall be born?"

This is a momentous responsibility for our world, for our church, and for ourselves as we face the challenge of His coming.

Historically, there have been three answers to this critical question.
So, let us look at the Gospel story, and we will find three different groups of people giving three conflicting answers.
And these answers have persisted across the centuries, and still represent the three conflicting attitudes
of our world today to the fact of Jesus Christ.

"What shall we do unto the child that shall be born?"

This answer is still being given today.
Even today the world knows instinctively that a secular society, a pagan culture, and unredeemed hearts
are not compatible with Christ.
He challenges all these worldly concepts.

This is still the objection of the world to this Child, named Jesus.
"Gentle Jesus, meek and mild" -- that would be acceptable to the world.
That is no challenge.

But a Jesus who would revolutionize the world and each life -- that is intolerable to a pagan world.
That is a threat to the way of life of this world.
Jesus strikes at the very roots of our independence and our self-sufficiency.

So a sinful world cries, "Away with Him! We will not have this Man to reign over us.
Let Him and His kingdom be destroyed
."

This is a situation that we should recognize.
This is the precise assault that our faith is meeting in our country day after day, even when the Christmas carols
are calling people to Bethlehem.
This is the crises for which the church reaches out to a world without Christ.
The opposition we face is determined and fierce.

Could this be a pessimistic outlook?
I don't think so!

There is a personal issue here also.
"What shall we do to the child that shall be born?"

We have dealt with the answer of Herod -- the answer of hostility.
I wonder -- is it possible that we sometimes fight against Christ without knowing that we are doing it?
Is this what we do with God's clear guidance when we know that God is saying to us:
"This is the way, walk ye in it"?
Knowing His will for us, and yet, we have turned aside and chose another path of our on choosing.

If we have ever heard our conscience leading us to do the right thing, and smothered that still small voice
and sinned against the light -- then we have also stood with the enemy, and had given our judgment against Christ.

"What shall we do unto the child that shall be born?"
There was another question Herod ought to have been asking.
He should have asked, "What shall the Child that is to be born do for me?"

That is the divine paradox of the Gospel.
That is the blazing irony of the incarnation.
Across the hopes of Bethlehem, the shadow of the tyrant loomed ominous and powerful, and the Babe seemed
weak and helpless.
But history bears witness that when Herod struck out in power at Mary's Child, he was striking at God Himself.
He was pitting himself against the God of the ages and it utterly destroyed him.
This is the eternal fact.

Haven't we learned from bitter experience that every time we go against God's laws
and our love relationship with Jesus that we complicate our life and throw real happiness away.

Therefore: "Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me, and know my thoughts."
Try me in the light of Bethlehem.
Search me with the judgment and mercy of Immanuel -- "and see if there be any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting
."

Herod's answer was not the only one, then or now.
Let us listen to another.

"What shall we do unto the child that shall be born?" This is an answer that the Christ Child was destined to meet again and again all through His life on earth.
It is not angry opposition, nor ferocious hatred, but indifference and unconcern with secular priorities and apathy.
He just did not matter.
He could just be ignored.

This answer is still being given.
Today, as in the first century, there are multitudes for whom faith in Christ is neither a miracle nor a menace,
but is simply irrelevant.
Their answer is that a preoccupied indifference. Nietzsche once stated: "These Christians must show me that they are redeemed before I will believe in their Redeemer."

Our prayer at Christmas should be: "Dear God, put an end to our dull, tedious misrepresenting of the faith
that you have given us, and set us on fire for Jesus Christ!
"

Listen to one more response to the question: "What shall we do unto the child that shall be born?" This answer is still being given, and I pray that it may be given today.
This is not a time, nor is there ever a time, for any follower of Jesus to be vague and apathetic in allegiance
and commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Simeon embraced God's Messiah.
He took the baby Jesus to his heart.
Do we?

Doubtless, in a sense we do. But does Jesus occupy the central place in our lives?
Does He have preeminence?

The fact of the matter is -- the church needs Christmas.
We also need Pentecost.
Our minds and hearts need to be set on fire by the Holy Spirit of God. That is not going to happen to you or me until we die to self, and cry out to God to smite us
with His glory and revive us completely.

Oh yes, we believe! We believe these things!
But today I'm asking that we not only believe them, but that we act on the basis of them.
For when this glorious truth gets hold of us and takes possession of us, then, like Simeon, we shall be completely
committed to Jesus this Christmas season.

And then?
What does it matter whether life be long or short? "Let's sing of Him in carols sweet,
Let's lay our best gifts at His feet
And make the season's joy complete --
With Jesus first in Christmas!
"

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at hleewhite@AOL.com