Today’s post is extra special because my children and I have collaborated to bring you the life lessons we all learned from watching our church’s production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever last night. As you read through this, we hope at least one of these lessons will touch your heart and make a difference in your life.
Lesson #1: We should love God and everyone God created.
The Herdmans seemed like a pretty unlovable bunch, but the love and kindness of the Bradley family made a big difference in their lives. This reminds us of Matthew 22:37-40, which says:
Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Lesson #2: Love your enemies.
The Herdman children did some really rotten things to the other children in the town (and to each other). In fact, if you looked up the word bully in the dictionary, it would not be surprising to find a picture of this rough and tumble crew right next to the definition. However, God’s Word reminds us in Matthew 5:43-48 that we are to love even those who are not kind to us.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Lesson #3: Don’t think you’re better than someone else.
The poor Herdmans just couldn’t get away from their bad reputation, and unfortunately that reputation followed them right into the doors of the church building. Instead of embracing the Herdmans and trying to be a positive influence in their lives, the church folks looked down on them and shunned them. This is the opposite of what Philippians 2:3-8 commands us to do.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with others, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Lesson #4: When you do something to help those in need, you are also doing it for Jesus.
The Herdmans were a family in need. The father had left at some point, and the mother had to work long hours to provide for her children. The people of the town and church had a chance to help the family out but instead they criticized the unruly children. If the family would have had a better support system around them, maybe the children would have been a little less menacing. Sometimes we have to take a long, hard look to make sure we are part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. Matthew 25:37-40 reminds us that when we help others, we are also helping Jesus.
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”
Lesson #5: Not everyone knows about Jesus.
Like most of us, the Herdmans didn’t know what they didn’t know, and it soon became obvious that they didn’t know anything about Jesus. Those of us who do know the story of Jesus need to remember that we have been commanded to share the good news with others. In fact, the greatest gift we can give another person is to introduce them to Jesus. Matthew 28:19-20 reminds us:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We hope that these lessons have blessed you and your family. We also hope you take some time during this busy holiday season to gather as a family and have some good old fashion discussion about a special event you attended or your favorite holiday tradition. The wisdom of your children just might surprise you!