Every year during the Christmas season, there are several classic movies that are shown on television. How many of you watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” every year? How about “A Miracle on 34th St.” or “White Christmas? “I like to watch all of them, but my favorite must see Christmas movie is “A Christmas Carol,” which is the story of the old miser, Ebenezer Scrooge. My wife says that I like this movie because I am a Scrooge when it comes to spending money.
If you remember the story, Ebenezer Scrooge is the classic miser who cares nothing about other people, only about getting more money. When he goes to bed on Christmas Eve he is visited by ghosts during his sleep, from the past, present, and future. The combination of revisiting his youth, seeing how people perceived him in the present, and the forecast of his untimely demise causes Ebenezer to totally change his outlook on Christmas and on life in general. According to the story he became a new man. It’s a great plot with a nice ending, but in it is contained a powerful message.
The famous author, Charles Dickens, was not a particularly religious man, but his writings were filled with Christian values. Even the name Ebenezer is a Biblical name which means, a new beginning. The word Ebenezer is mentioned in the old hymn about a turning point in life, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come; and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home. Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God; he, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood.” Dickens is also responsible for popularizing the greeting “Merry Christmas,” that remains the most popular greeting this time of year, in spite of the politically correct police in almost every retail store that sells Christmas decorations, cards, and presents.
I’m not exactly sure that the message Charles Dickens wanted to convey with his classic story about Scrooge was the transformation of a man who found and followed Christ, but the character of Scrooge certainly is an example of a changed life. Throughout history there are many examples of evil individuals coming to a point in their life where they completely changed for the better and sought to make amends for their past, and if nothing else, Dickens “A Christmas Carol” was certainly influenced by biblical principles and the need for redemption. At the end of the story Scrooge can’t do enough good things for people and became known as someone who truly knew the spirit of Christmas and of giving to help others. The last chapter of the story depicts Ebenezer Scrooge as a generous, humble, and even spiritual man who enjoyed the rest of his days on earth by helping others and extending the Christmas spirit everywhere he went.
The biblical account of Christmas however, is even better because the Good News of God sending Jesus the Savior is that our salvation and opportunity for a changed life doesn’t depend on us and our good works at all. The baby Jesus satisfied the payment for all the evil things done by anyone who has ever lived on the earth. Jesus took upon himself the chains of evil and sinful living, and offers not only freedom from the past during this life on earth, but the hope of eternal life in heaven for anyone who by faith accepts Jesus death on the cross, burial, and resurrection as payment for all their sins. So unlike Scrooge, the Bible story of redemption, our salvation and joy of Christmas isn’t based on our level of reformation or our good works. Our hope of heaven and our freedom, from the consequences of our sin, have been completely and permanently sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Many people think about a new beginning this time of year. In Revelation 21:5 the Bible says, “And He who is seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” God, who is always on his throne, can give us new life and can carry each of us through any changes in our lives during the new year, and throughout our life. May you find the joy of allowing the transforming power of God to be lived out before others in your life in a way that will draw those you influence to Jesus.