Kellogg column: Christmas is the gift of liberty and powerful love
Christmas is a reminder that we are meant to be free. God instilled an inherent need for love and intimacy in human beings. Jesus demonstrates that true loving connection is a powerful, purposeful choice that comes freely from the heart. The founders of the United States understood that people were created with the unalienable right of liberty. Every American can freely accept the true gift of Christmas; relationship with our Creator and fellow man.
Jesus was born in the midst of pain and poverty to show that no one is isolated from him. Anyone may lay his or her sins at the foot of the cross and receive God’s redeeming grace. We can surrender fear, guilt and regret to the almighty and receive loving acceptance. This gift of connection was given to humanity by the birth of Christ two millennia ago, but it must be unwrapped by each person who makes the choice to love him and love others.
At the core of Christmas is the concept of community. It’s about fostering relationships by openly admitting to others that you need and want them in your life. In a strong community, trust allows vulnerability to strengthen bonds. The Holy Spirit works through people who respond to our needs. Those experiences bring about meaningful connections. When people feel connected with others, they become instruments of his will, eager to share their blessings.
The need for loving relationships is fundamental for all people. Healthy, enduring relationships can only be built between people who choose to connect with purpose and responsibility. As Pastor Danny Silk points out in his book, “Keep Your Love On,” each of us needs to become a “powerful person.” Powerful people take responsibility for their lives and choices. A powerful person focuses on self-control, lives with purpose, and chooses those people he or she will connect with in relationship.
People must be free to make choices. Verse 3:17 in 2nd Corinthians says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Beginning with the Garden of Eden, God’s intent is not to control us. He gives us free choice, even though it puts us at risk for pain, rejection and difficulty. Christmas shows that God is always pursuing us, giving us the chance to love him. We are meant to have freedom to cast aside fear and partner with his spirit.
Pastor Silk use the analogy of a house to explain the elements of relationships that incorporate his spirit. The foundation is unconditional love and acceptance. We should not accept another person’s bad behaviors, but we must protect each other’s freedom of choice. He identifies love, honor, self-control, responsibility, truth, faith, and vision as seven pillars that must be built upon this foundation. These structures support a shelter to house shalom, the reality of God’s kingdom expressed as peace and joy in our lives.
Love is the only thing that satisfies the human heart. But few of us effectively communicate thoughts, feelings and needs to establish real love. Most of us are governed by fear of failure and rejection. A powerful person develops courage to understand himself or herself and relate honestly with others. Powerful people become assertive communicators who are not afraid of strength, in themselves or in others within relationships.
Relationships are critical, but they require boundaries and prioritization. Everything Jesus did revolved around his core relationship with the Father. Outside this “God Spot,” our spouse, children, family, friends and colleagues should occupy progressively wider circles with lower levels of intimacy and access. If you don’t prioritize your relationship with God, a human being or a government agency will end up in your God Spot. Powerless people allow that to happen, skewing priorities, squandering resources and ruining relationships.
Our nation’s founders valued the divine gift of free will to choose personal responsibility over inaction and dependency. The did not intend for government to provide every need and make every decision. Limited government and prominent character-forming institutions of families, churches and schools help cultivate the skills for relationships. But every American must utilize faith, fortitude and free will to live with power and purpose.
More than any people in history, Americans are free to connect and communicate with others. But we can’t be timid and must cast fear aside. We are often swept along by events that surround us. We struggle through pain, loss and rejection. Fortunately, Christmas shows us that God offers us the gift of unending love. May you discover the power of loving relationships this Christmas season.
James D. Kellogg is an engineering consultant, author, and business system advocate. He is the founder of RadicalActionForLife.com and the author of “Radical Action: A Colt Kelley Thriller”. Look for the novel on amazon.com and visit JamesDKellogg.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.