What Christmas Emblazons on Our Hearts
by ROBERT J. MORGAN
LAST YEAR IN ASIA, I met a young man from an oppressive communist nation. His smile was like sunshine, and we became fast friends. Tuan’s arm bore a tattoo in Asian letters, which I asked about.1 He explained he’d grown up with haunting emptiness. As a teenager, Tuan’s loneliness led him to identify three things he desperately wanted, and a tattoo artist inked them onto his arm. The symbols spelled three words: peace, clean, and eternal.
He wanted a sense of peace and a feeling of being clean, and he wanted them eternally.
Tuan told me that even in this hostile nation, people watched American movies, and he had especially loved Christmas movies, which he played over and over. The music made him feel better, though he couldn’t understand the words.
After high school, Tuan traveled to Eastern Europe for university studies, and a girl invited him to a Christmas party sponsored by an Asian church. That night, he recognized the Christmas songs he knew from the movies, but now he heard them in his own language. He understood the words. In this way, he heard the gospel message and learned about Jesus. Shortly afterward, Tuan gave his heart to Jesus, and his entire life was emblazoned with the words he so deeply desired: peace, clean, and eternal.
Today Tuan is back in his own country, facing persecution but enthusiastically sharing the story of Christmas and of the Christ who has emblazoned all history with His love.
Tuan’s instinctive need for inner peace is shared by us all, and that’s one of the magnetic elements of Christmas. We’re drawn to its message of peace. The Messiah is the Prince of Peace. (See Isa. 9:6.) The angels introduced Him by proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth” (Luke 2:14). His message was called “the good news of peace through Jesus Christ — he is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36), “for he is our peace” (Eph. 2:14).
Our world has been through a turbulent year. We’re reeling from pandemics, economic stress, and political fatigue. Rogue nations and terror organizations can strike at any moment. Our planet is suffering the birth pains that precede the return of Jesus. (See Matt. 24:8.) If you’re like me, you’re thinking, If 2020 was so difficult, what will the coming year bring?
I’ll tell you. It will bring increasing measures of inner peace for those who know Him who said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful” (John 14:27). The nations of the world and the conditions of the day are under His control. Guard yourself from apprehension, uneasiness, and worry. Claim the peace that Jesus claimed for you, and let the peace of Christ rule in your heart.
The reason we have such peace is because the Lord Jesus came to cleanse us from every sinful act, shady thought, slimy habit, and guilty thread in our lives. Recently, I realized that as I get older, I’m prone to feel guiltier. I look back with more regrets, remembering my moments of folly or failure. But while struggling with that, I read a message from Dr. Lloyd Martyn-Jones, who said, “We must never look at any sin in our past life in any way except that which leads us to praise God and to magnify His grace in Christ Jesus.” 2
That helped me so much. Guard yourself against guilt and regret. If we ever look back with pangs of sadness and self-reproach, we’re discounting the earthly mission of Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save us from those very things — sins, sadness, and regret. The blood of Christ has cleansed all that from our lives, and our response is, “Praise the Lord, and thank You, my Savior!”
Having peace and feeling clean would be of limited value without the eternal life Jesus gives us. Imagine being on the Titanic after it struck the iceberg. No matter how delicious the food in the dining room, how wonderful the orchestra, or how thick the blankets on the bed — there was no peace that night, for it was all ending so quickly. That’s a parable of life without Christ.
On the other hand, the biblical promises about eternal life are like corks that plug every hole of doubt in the believer’s mind. By reading the Gospel of John, for example, we become inwardly watertight, shipshape, and buoyant. Just read John 3: “Everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. … The one who believes in the Son has eternal life” (vv. 15-16,36).
My wife, Katrina, passed away last year after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. After her death, I found myself putting up pictures of her throughout the house. As I walked through the rooms, looking at them, I wondered why they didn’t make me sad. Eventually, I realized they weren’t about the past but about the future. They were reminding me of our approaching reunion. I was thankful for the memories but more excited about heaven.
Everyone deals with grief differently; we all establish different patterns of responding to loss. But every true believer in the Christ of Christmas has a glorious reunion ahead, and on that day, we shall see Him face-to-face and tell the story saved by grace. Guard yourself against endless grief and set your mind on things above.
This year, enjoy God’s three great Christmas presents that represent His love for you in Jesus Christ.
No, you don’t have to get them tattooed on your arm. But make sure they’re engraved on your heart and reflected on your face — and the Lord will bless us every one.
1Name has been changed.
2 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 75.
ROBERT J. MORGAN is the teaching pastor of The Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, where he has served for more than 40 years. He is a bestselling, gold Illumination Book Award-winning, and gold Medallion Award-winning writer. He and Katrina, his late wife of 43 years, have three daughters and 16 grandchildren.