“These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”
In the last several weeks, you may have gone to get a flu shot, to vaccinate yourself against getting the flu this season. It’s interesting how they make a flu vaccine, and how it works. You see, the flu vaccine is essentially an altered strand of the previous year’s flu virus.
When this harmless strand is injected into your body, it triggers your immune system, in effect training it to know what to look for, so that when you are exposed to the flu virus this year, your body will recognize and reject it before it infects you. In simplest terms, the flu shot gives you a little bit of something that looks to your body like the flu, in order to keep you from getting the real thing.
But did you know that in this season of the year, there’s another thing people are unwittingly “vaccinated” against? Unfortunately, they’re being vaccinated against an “infection” they need to have in order to live.
Here’s how it happens: They go to church and celebrate Christmas. They take communion and sing carols about the birth of Christ. They watch Christmas plays and listen to messages about the Christ child. They give and receive presents and cards. They pray with great sincerity about “peace on Earth.” They shake hands with people, smiling and wishing them a “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.” They don’t realize they’re injecting themselves with that little bit of something that looks like a relationship with God that keeps them from getting the real thing.
Jesus warned against that kind of worship that people are so prone to at Christmas and Easter. He warned us that God isn’t impressed by lips that sing His praises if they come from a heart He hasn’t been allowed to utterly change.
My friends, you don’t want to get a “God vaccine” this Christmas. Don’t let mere religion immunize you against a relationship with Jesus Christ. Get the real thing, if you haven’t already. Get a relationship with God, that guarantees you eternal life with Him in heaven.
It’s not about going through the motions of religion, at Christmastime or anytime. Following traditions and teachings of mere men is worshiping God in vain, Jesus said. In vain. Worthless. Of no value. Such worship will gain you absolutely nothing for eternity.
The Good News of Christmas, though, is that it doesn’t have to be that way; because “the real thing” is God’s Christmas gift to you. And this gift is not like the “free gifts” the world offers, where you get something for “free, when you buy . . . .” I’m talking about a real gift that is truly free: The gift of salvation from your sins and everlasting joy in heaven. It costs you nothing, because Jesus has already paid for it so that He could give it to you. The blood He shed on the cross is your gift certificate, purchasing your eternal peace with a holy God.
The first “Christmas tree” ever was cut down, and its boards were made into a cross. On it, Jesus, the perfect Son of God, hung and bled and died for only one reason. It wasn’t to set an example for you. It wasn’t to inspire you. It wasn’t to found a religion for you to follow. It was to completely pay the debt you owe God for breaking His perfect laws.
Jesus absorbed all of the punishment you deserve for your sins, and rose again from the dead to give you eternal life. All you must do is believe that, and you will be saved.
Redeem your “gift certificate” from Christ today, right where you are. Tell Jesus you know you have sinned against Him. Tell Him you believe that He died in your place, being punished for your sins. Ask Him for forgiveness of your sins. Tell Him you’re trusting Him to give you now the gift of eternal life in heaven.
If you do that, then you can truly celebrate Christmas, with a new heart, given to you by Christ Himself. You will no longer be vaccinated from the truth that sets you free. You’ll have the real thing. And you’ll wonder how you made it through so many Christmases without it.