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By Crystal Young

What is happening! How did we get HERE! I can hear the sharp exclamation in my friends voice. The very same questions have been resonating powerfully within me for quite some time. Why has His season been watered down to “romcom Christmas movies on Netflix and Advent calendars filled with chocolate” – empty renditions.

It has everything to do – with nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of the year. It pulls me more towards humanity than any other month. I have a moment to catch my breath and gather my thoughts in our man-made rat race. I pose this cheeky question to each reader: What are we celebrating? The answer is obvious right – the birth of Jesus Christ, His life, Our Saviour. Wrong!

For many believers it has not been (that) for a very long time. How on earth have we managed to get HERE? As a society, we have become so complacent in our beliefs that I hope to shake your world a bit. Jesus was not born in a comfortable setting, neither did he live his life in comfort. Before I lose your interest, I am not referring to possessions or who has the fatter bank account sermon. I want to challenge you to break out of your circle and reach into someone else’s. The intention of my blog is not to tell you something you want to hear, but rather what no one else dares to write. Remove your rose-coloured blinders and look around you. The need is so loud its deafening. The need to love one another! Was it not the explosive love of Jesus Christ that has given us eternal life in heaven? Then how can we ignore His command: 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all love each other deeply.”

When Jesus said these Words, He did not mean only at Christmas time. He meant 365 days a year. Noel is when we celebrate the birth and life of our King – it is a time that spurs us on to renew and revive our relationship with our Lord God – A time for us to remember.

How then do we celebrate the life of Jesus, what are some of the things He loved to do? Jesus ate with the outcasts, prayed for the poor, gave food to the hungry and helped the orphans. JESUS LOVED! He went on to to teach us in Mark 12:31 “Love your neighbour as yourself.” The (word) neighbour in this context refers to those living next to or near you. Approximately seven minutes’ drive from the centre of town (Wellington – in the Boland) is an impoverished area called Newrest. Here you will find a non-profit organization based in the heart of the community (their logo says it all – piecing lives together). The people who live in this area do not have running water (there is little to no sanitation.) Their children play in the waste and rubbish heaps that get dumped in vacant spaces. The pungent smell of burning refuse and copper cables constantly hangs in the air as the ashes float to the ground like black confetti.

The name “Newrest” is quite a contradiction to the stark reality of its inhabitants. I can’t help but think – what their Christmas meal will look like. Do they believe that Jesus loves them? These are difficult thoughts to swallow – this is “Christmas in Real Time”. Right about now you are deciding to either continue reading or forget this article exists and be oblivious to the needs of your neighbour wherever in the country you might be, because this article is making your feel too uncomfortable.

How can we love beyond our borders of comfort? We don’t serve for others to know our names; We serve to make the name of JESUS GREAT.

The more space we make for Jesus in our lives, it leaves less space for our own selfish ambitions and pride. It is not our good deeds that will bring rain to the disaster-stricken Karoo, our kind words that will heal a man of TB, or our outrage that will stop poor locals from selling their children to Nigerian sex traffickers in the townships.

It is only the love of God than can do all this!

Therefore, we do not love in our own names but in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. The One who was born on Christmas day. 1 John 4:19 “We love because He loved us first.”

My sincere prayer for each reader during the Christmas period is that you will REMEMBER. Remember why Jesus was born, the Bible stories of His uncomfortable birth and of His time with sinners and saints alike. He loved them all. He loves us now. May each one of us find creative ways of reaching out and loving our own neighbours – because He loved us first.