Right about now daily life becomes so hectic that our focus is on surviving until December 25th, not on reflecting. Maybe that is a significant, contributing reason for the depression this time of the year. All the advertisements show smiling faces at smiling gatherings of families or friends or both. Yet, those advertisements do not depict many people’s reality. Too often this important commercial time of the year tries to remind people of what they do not have, not what they do have.

The same commercials deliberately (for commercial purposes) send a false message. The false message: (1) “Give people what they want and they will be happy,” or (2) “If you give this for a gift you can be sure the person will be happy.” The annual reminder arrives: happiness is not found in possessions. We often think “possessions” are a substitute for caring, loving “relationships.” How quickly “things” bore us. “Things” are a distraction with an extremely short life of effective distraction. Caring, loving “relationships” grow in meaning and often endure a life time.

Perspective is the engine of reflection. In recent days, a conversation, an e-mail, and a letter fueled my reflection. The conversation came from a missionary forced home because of a medical necessity. His comment: “For the first time, I am experiencing reverse culture shock.” Reverse culture shock occurs when you re-enter the home culture and feel like you do not fit. Why is he experiencing reverse culture shock? “Here this season is so commercial!” Its focus is on business, not on remembering!

The e-mail came from a Christian in another part of our world. In this region Christianity is looked upon with great suspicion. Powerful people regard Christians as evil people who are a dangerous threat to society. In simple eloquence, the person spoke of the hopelessness of many. They had only the here-and-now perspective. They struggled daily in a sense of personal desperation as existence became increasingly futile.

The letter came from a Christian friend working hard in an area so poverty stricken that the simplest medicines are unavailable. The average person cannot even obtain a Bible. In the past, he has written me often of the difficulty of helping people find hope in Jesus Christ when they do not even have a Bible to read.

This is a wonderful time of the year to show love. Please, never rely on “things” to declare your love. Show your love through your kindness and caring. Show your love through a living, continuing “relationship.” Because you are who you are in Jesus Christ, touch lives of others by allowing God to teach you how to love in every relationship. May it be evident in the way you treat others that God living in you through Jesus Christ makes the difference that cannot be ignored. May an accurate, grateful perspective on your countless blessings enlarge your perspective! May your perspective drive your relationships! Your memories and awareness are the fuel for your love!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 19 December 2004

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