“Therefore the people wander like sheep, oppressed for lack of a shepherd.” (Zechariah 10:2 NIV)
It’s easy to forget the purpose of Christmas. This time of year we have so many things that can get in the way: commercialism, traditions, even family and church commitments.
To find the real purpose of Christmas, you have to fast forward from the shepherds, the wise men, and the dirty stable. We have to go to a statement Jesus made during his adult years about why he came: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10 NIV).
The reason we celebrate Christmas is because Jesus came to Earth to seek and save the lost.
Jesus uses three stories in the gospel of Luke to demonstrate what it means to be lost: the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. They teach us that when we’re disconnected from God, we lose:
Our direction (Parable of the Lost Sheep): The Bible says in Isaiah 53:6, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Sheep don’t intend to get lost; it’s just what they do naturally. So do we. By our own nature, we follow our own way. When we do that, we lose our way.
God’s protection (Parable of the Lost Sheep): Sheep have no natural defense system, so a sheep without a shepherd is a goner. That sounds like us. The Bible says, “Therefore the people wander like sheep, oppressed for lack of a shepherd” (Zechariah 7:2). Without a relationship with God, we’re vulnerable to stress we were never meant to have.
Our full potential (Parable of the Lost Coin): One coin can be a part of much good, but that coin has no potential if it’s lost. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “What God has planned for people who love him is more than eyes have seen or ears have heard. It has never even entered our minds!" (CEV) The potential of those who are connected to God is immeasurable; the potential that’s lost for those who do not have a relationship with God is equally immeasurable.
Our happiness (Parable of the Lost Son): After the son left his father’s care and began to go his own way, it didn’t take long for him to become miserable and lonely. There’s a lot of miserable people who are choosing to go their own way and not God’s way. Being disconnected from God will eventually ruin our happiness.
Our home in Heaven (The Parable of the Lost Son): God lets us rebel while we are here on Earth, but there are no rebels in Heaven. Preparing for the next life is the best use of this life. God gives us our way. If we want to live without him on Earth, he’ll let us live without him for eternity.
Being disconnected from God has vast, devastating, and eternal consequences. If you’re living disconnected from God, don’t wait. Connect with him today.
Talk About It
How does your life demonstrate that you are intimately connected to God?
Who do you know that needs to get connected to God this Christmas season through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Think about how you will approach it?
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life." His book, "The Purpose Driven Church," was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
This devotional ©2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.