Sheep and Goats
A few weeks ago, I took my girls to see Disney’s film “A Christmas Carol.” It is a new animated version of the story shown in amazing 3-D. Perhaps because Disney makes amusement park rides, part of the film felt like being on a roller coaster. Speeding through the streets of Victorian England was pretty fun. That wasn’t what impressed me about the film, though. What really stood out is how devoted the script was to Charles Dickens’s original novella.
Because most of the script of the film was taken word for word from Dickens, the point of that original story came loud and clear through this secular film: Christians are supposed to care for the poor. That is the point Dickens was making, and the film pulled no punches. While I would argue that a Christmas Carol suffers from a hefty dose of works-based salvation, it certainly made an impression on me and my kids.
Advent is a season in which the Church looks ahead at the great Day of Judgment. On that Day, you and I will not be saved or damned because of how we treat the poor. Salvation is in Christ alone by grace alone through faith alone. But the Lord will judge our works, including the way we treat the poor. We will be answerable for our actions.
In this season of Advent, then, it is important to spend some of our time, energy, and money on those who are less fortunate. Last week I suggested giving to or working at the Family Affair Christmas Store, and I still do. Another way that I recommend is through World Vision’s Christmas Catalog. This catalog, available via mail an on-line, allows you to select gifts that will be given to the poor in the name of another person. So, instead of buying a sweater for your sister, you could give a goat to a family in Africa. You could provide a month of education to an orphan, or a fish pond for a village, or clothing for the homeless, or a soccer ball for children in Latin America. World Vision will then send your recipient a card, or you can print one off and send it yourself.
You can visit the Christmas Catalog by going to WorldVision.org, or by following this link directly to the catalog.
Gift giving is part of the tradition of Christmas; I am not suggesting otherwise. I am suggesting that perhaps some of the gifts we give this year could be a blessing to both the recipient and to a person in need. I especially think of those people who don’t really need anything else, the man or woman “who has it all.” Maybe this would be a good time of the year to feed the hungry and clothe the naked in their name, and in the Name of Christ.
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