Last night, I chose to participate in a show of support for my local park. I came to a City Counsel board meeting, listened to people from my community and elsewhere get up and speak, and had a great time standing in agreeance with most everyone there. It feels good to be a part of the majority. It really does.
Here’s my hope for all of this:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
Or if you prefer:
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7 KJV
I want my heart to be guarded.
I want my mind to be constantly in Christ.
If the decorations stay up- Praise God.
If the decorations come down- Praise God.
My faith isn’t in a statue. My faith isn’t in a lighted angel.
My faith is in Jesus.
Do I like the park? All lit up in its fanciness and sparling at night with Christmas music playing and hot chocolate in my mug, and hearing my children giggle from the backseat when they see the Baby in the manger?
Yes. I do.
And I’d love for it to stay, because it’s become a tradition for our family to ride through and see the lights. It’s fun. It’s wholesome in a time where very little is wholesome.
My kids even love all the Santas. Train Santa, sleigh Santa, the little cartwheel Santa.
And I love that we have been free to display this.
I even love that we have some decorations that stay up year round. I can take my children there and teach them about Jesus walking on the water, feeding the five thousand, about His love for us that drove Him to sacrifice his own life.
But would I rather keep all of that, and lose one soul that is in Collins that is lost?
Would I say, “If you hate Christmas, then just leave! We don’t want you here! Why are you here anyway?”
Never in a million years.
A lost soul is so much more valuable than any set of Christmas lights. It’s so much more valuable than any decoration. It is a soul, and it is one of God’s children, whether they know it or believe it.
And as Christians who love these displays, it’s on us to show love to people who are different than us.
This whole thing isn’t about getting mad at atheist. It’s about praying for them.
It’s not about telling people who don’t like it, not to look at it. It’s about asking them how their day went, and then if it’s okay to pray for the situations that are bothering them.
This “attack” isn’t an attack at all.
It’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for us to show Christs’ love in a bigger way.
I used to joke about Collins being on the map. “Collins and it’s 2 red lights. You know, the one at Sonic and the one on Main Street. There’s 2 more but they just flash.” (A lot of you know which red lights I’m referring to! It’s been a while since it was just those 4.)
We are bigger now, with a few more red lights, and this story has put us on the Internet map, as well.
I hope and pray, that when others look and see what we are standing up for, they don’t see Christmas lights or a big Jesus statue.
I hope they see Christians.
People who were once so very broken, who probably still slip up from time to time, but who love Jesus with a passion and have a heart to help and serve others just like Jesus did.
I hope they see Christians, getting on their knees and praying for their officials, praying for their government.
I hope they see Christians, showing love to one another, for nothing in return.
Friends, neighbors, Collins residents… Let’s show Jesus the way He’s best shown off: by the way He makes us more into Himself. By our lives. Our lives should shine brighter than any of the lights in that park- with love, forgiveness, honor and peace.
Collins is an amazing little town, and I’m so honored to call it home.