A CHRISTMAS WISH
By Rev. Dr. Brian Gigee
I’m really hard to shop for. Ask my wife. Especially at Christmastime. My children know the script by heart. “Dad, what do you want for Christmas?” they ask. And before I get the chance to tell them they interrupt with the clarifier… “besides world peace!” They know I want world peace. Really. I work at it every day. I wish everyone would! I know I’m asking for a lot here, but it’s really not an unreasonable request. Some ride that train. Others stand at the station. It’s always a matter of faith.
But this year my wish is different. Purposefulness requires effort and I need your help as what I’m hoping for at Christmastime impacts all of us.
I know you’ve heard this from others and maybe you’ve even said these words yourself… “Everything happens for a reason.” Yeah, those words. Please stop. Halto! Please remove them from your vocabulary. Sure, everything happens for a reason but everything that happens is not equal to the will of God. It’s too confusing. God’s will is one thing… everything that happens for a reason is something else. And I’m not sure whose fault it is that people have been using the phrase ad nauseum, but someone did and they need to stop as well.
I hear a lot of the TV preachers use a similar phrase over and over. They look in the camera and with a big smile they say… “God has a plan for your life!” They say it real slow, so the listeners don’t miss a syllable and pay attention to the word PLAN right there in the middle. Then this terrible thing unfolds. They never tell you what the plan is. People are left scratching their heads and when crappola happens they revert to words like… “Everything happens for a reason” and they are not sure it’s God’s plan or not! I take a bit of comfort that those kinds of preachers only make up less than 2% of Christianity, despite the fact they get most of the TV time. You can spread this word as well… that most of Christianity in America (and around the world for that matter) is made up of thousands of congregations of 500 people or less and offer so much more to so many more people than seeing your friend or family member on the big screen on Sunday. 2% of 250 million is about 5 million. Hmm.
But, back to my Christmas wish… does everything really happen for a reason? Sure. However, again… what happens in life isn’t always the will of God or part of God’s plan. The Bible is pretty clear on that! And I’ve seen this play out too many times causing more hurt and harm than help. Like the guy who was run over by the truck. What was the reason? The will of God? God’s plan? No. He was run over because he stepped out in front of the truck. It’s called tragedy. It’s been going on for years.
Do I know people who have married with the intention of divorcing? No. No one does that. Never on their wedding day. But it happens. The reason? The will of God? God’s plan? No. When people divorce it’s because one partner no longer wants to be married and when I press couples about the kinds of reasons leading up to this they normally point to issues of selfishness, pride and an inability to tend to the difficult work any marriage requires. Sure, everything happens for a reason… but let’s stop using those words to blame God for the disappointment and loss in our lives and take the responsible approach by blaming the person who looks back at us in the mirror. God has no puppets.
Somebody got robbed in the parking lot at the mall. They were traumatized. They don’t want to go back. A friend tries this comforting phrase… “everything happens for a reason…” And the reason? So God would teach the victim a lesson? No, because some people are lazy and robbing someone else is easy. Or because they are desperate. Faith matters. Yes!
But what is the will of God? What is God’s PLAN for you? I know the answer and I’m going to tell you… “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and strength and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” That was Jesus’ answer when asked about the most important thing anyone could do. Faith matters.
That’s my Christmas wish. And, yeah, world peace!
Brian Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland and the lead pastor at New Life Lutheran Church at 3521 E. Orange St. in Olde Pearland. You can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Friend2theRabbi. Comments and questions can be sent to [email protected].