It's About the Love
The Essence of the Christian Life

I have worked in an unusual setting for the past few years. It is a place where thousands of people live together and work together. We have our rooms and offices, warehouses and docks, work shops and storage yards. There is a dining hall and we have some recreational areas. It is a community to itself, literally fenced in and surrounded by landmines along its perimeter.

Most of the people who are in camp during the day come to work from local communities, passing through security gates every morning and evening. Some of us come from other countries and cannot leave camp without written approval from the top manager. The security guards will stop us unless we have our "gate pass." We come to work for weeks at a time. Without family. Without friends. Without our "stuff." We are here to work. And that is what we do.

People everywhere are hungry for more than work, though. More than food. More than entertainment. People want fulfillment. They want to "belong." They want to know that they matter. In short, they need to be loved.

I was eating dinner with another worker one evening. We had just finished the Christmas and New Year holiday seasons. Being in camp is particularly hard during those times. Work is usually slower, and the company gives us half a day off on the dates of holidays--workload permitting. The absence of family and home feels more pressing--and depressing. We talked about things we had done or enjoyed in this remote place. My wife sent a present with me to open. It was a copy of the movie White Christmas, and we planned to synchronize our schedules so that we could watch it "together." The other worker used his two free afternoons to phone home.

We talked about our families' holiday traditions. They were very, very different. He was raised in India; I grew up in the United States. But we found many, many thoughts that resounded strongly between us. It was an enjoyable conversation. One that I will remember for many years.

I have thought about that conversation several times since then, and I think I know why. It was anything but a normal Christmas, but Christmas came. It came to me. To the camp. To the whole world. No one had to do anything. It came because Jesus came. And Jesus came because He loves us. That is the way that it all began. And that is the way that it is. We do not have to do anything. He just loves us. And we can talk with people about Christmas. We can talk to them about the Lord. When we do that, we share Christmas. We share Jesus. We share His love. Whether we are reading the Christmas story in church or talking about Christmas traditions in remote places, we share His love. And that is the essence of Christ. The essence of Christmas. The essence of the Christian life.

Be loving. Be Christ like. Be Christian.

God bless you--