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The Challenge of Christmas

23 Dec

Agatha Christie Miss MarpleRecently, I’ve become acquainted with Agatha Christie’s wonderful mystery stories. So far, my favorite of her detectives is Miss Marple. She is sweet but shrewd, ‘wise as a serpent, innocent as a dove.’ She, like Jane Austen, is perceptive of human nature and sees both virtues and flaws. She notices things and thinks about them, like Sherlock Holmes. She doesn’t put herself forward, but she cares about people and tries to help where she may. Often times, because of her age and the fact that she comes from a small town in England which she frequently references, people underestimate her. Yet, it is she who ends up figuring out ‘who-dun-it’. 

“It has been said that there are only three motives for murder: money, love, and revenge,” says Carolyn Wells in her excellent book, The Technique of the Mystery Story. “The most interesting motives are doubtless money, love and revenge; but the ramifications of these include hate, jealousy, greed, safety, ambition, inheritance and many others—in fact, the whole category of human emotions.”

Indeed, the earliest recorded murder was all about revenge and jealousy. Cain killed his brother Abel because the Lord received Abel’s offering, but rejected Cain’s (Gen. 4:1-10, Heb. 11:4, and 1John 3:12). James 4:1-3 says, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

I enjoy reading mysteries and trying to ‘play detective’ right along with Miss Marple, but there’s a challenge, if you’re willing to accept it. In reading the stories, I put myself in amongst the characters, of course as the brilliant detective or one of the innocent bystanders, but am I willing to see my own faults? Am I willing to see myself as one of the suspects, with good reason? Am I willing to see myself as the murderer? Scripture says, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him,” (1John 3:15).

The most important question is: Am I willing to submit myself to God and change?

What causes anyone to want money so badly they’re willing to kill for it, to twist love so much that they would rather the other person die than belong to anyone else, and/or to seek revenge for some perceived wrong? Why do we think so very highly of ourselves? 

This is a strange thing to post right before Christmas, but perhaps not.

When do we become the most greedy? What has Christmas become but a time of getting rather than giving? Oh, we justify it to ourselves, but where is our focus? It’s not on Jesus!

What has this season become? A time of stress instead of worship, a time of taking rather than giving, a time of disappointment rather than thankfulness? We endure the holidays rather than cherish family and friends. We guilt-trip one another rather than simply loving people. Instead of prayer and worship, we fret and complain.

Oh Lord, change me. Let this season be a time of worship and love, a time of giving and cherishing, a time to be a blessing to someone else. Thank You for robing Yourself in flesh and coming as a helpless infant, Immanuel, God in the flesh, Jesus, Jehovah has become my Salvation!

Merry Christmas!

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