When the world was in a devastated, challenged, hopeless and gloomy state, the heaven suddenly burst out with an angelic choir announcing a message of JOY to the whole world. The political leaders of the times during the first century in Palestine were doing all sort of things to keep their reign intact; the nation was infested with abuses, taxes, corruptions and extortions; the religious arena was also inflicted with ugliness, bad taste, full of hypocrisy and temple sanctioned daylight robbery in the midst to true worship and sacrifices. The coming of the new born King was not noticed by many people. The JOY of the Lord was brought to the people who needed it most but only a few received it.
The world today has not changed much and not any better than the past 2000 years, especially the hardships and sufferings caused by natural disasters, human disasters – wars, corruptions, greed, indifference, cheats, abuses, scandals, human trafficking, seeking for refuge, addictions, strange ideologies, irresponsible actions, falsehood, etc. In the name of development, nation building, religious ideologies, technological advancement and sometimes in the name of God, we have usurped the authority to govern and rule justly and peaceably, instead we dominate, exploit, bully, and even justify our actions as sacred and divine. Such happenings are reported in our newspaper and social media countless time daily. In some ways, we have gotten immune with such news and reporting day in and day out and have become indifference. In the midst of hopelessness and deterioration, the same JOY is again brought to our notice annually during Christmastide that there is still hope and future for all who trust and believe in the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ.
To many, the physical concept of trust and accepting Jesus Christ is alien and foreign. The constant challenge is – how can one mentally and conceptually enter into a relationship and faith with an unseen, invisible being. Some are trying hard to experience it through playing an active role in the church and engaging the ministry provided within. Other are trying to calculate and understand logically how to measure and monitor faith and trust. Those who failed miserably will or may walk away empty, disappointed and angry feeling that they are cheated or wasting time.
In today’s sophisticated, high-tech and digitised world, it is so easy to substitute the real JOY to the World with celebration, presents, Santa Claus, Christmas trees, turkey, parties, carols, services, singing and festive mood. It is so challenging to ask the 21st century people to enter into a personal faith and trust with the Lord Jesus Christ. For many years, I was struggling in similar manner and after some tries, I gave up miserably accusing those who shared with me as brain-washers and fanatics. Finally, after some years later, when I got to the real JOY, my whole world has changed from a dark and gloom one to a bright and colourful one. After that, I have encountered many people with similar experiences.
In fact, the real JOY is not found in the mathematical formula or logical assembly or technological feel or strategic mental manipulation or efforts of repetitive hard-work or mastering skills of devotional and prayer liturgies. It can actually be found by us setting the right priorities in our lives. For example, when a man loves a woman or a mother loves her child, he/she will put her/him as his/her utmost priority and everything else becomes secondary. Similarly, when we put Christ first in our lives, we should give him the best and faithfully listen to and obey him. The problem for many is that when we say we love Christ and want to put him first in our lives, it is ONLY in exchange for favour, blessings, wealth, health and promotion etc. Such action or intention will usually end up futile. The process in putting Christ first in our lives can and may be achieved as follows:
- Know him through his scriptures with systematic reading, Bible Study, teachings of the scriptures
- Learn more of him and his habits and behaviour, and find out why he did what he did
- Learn to follow his ways and teachings step by step, and know the reason why
- Put your trust upon him by receiving and accepting him as Lord and Saviour
- Increase your faith by walking in his steps closer and more focus through much training
- Follow him and become his disciple by putting him first in your life
The angelic choir proclaimed JOY to the World at the first Christmas. When I first heard the carol ‘Joy to the World’, strangely the word JOY stood out in its acronym J.O.Y., and I somewhat took it for the real message of JOY. Since then I have not looked back and the Lord Jesus Christ has been first in my life.
- J-oy refers to Jesus first in our lives
- O-ther refers to other people second in our lives
- Y-ou refers to you i.e. us last in our lives
Let us at this Christmas re-ignite our priorities rightly by putting Jesus first in our lives follow by others, with ourselves and our interests last.
Jesus is just a prayer away. Call him and try him.
Wishing you a Blessed Christmas and a meaningful New Year ahead.
The Most Reverend Moon Hing
Primate of the Province of South East Asia