Death, Christmas and Taxes
Odd combination of subject matter, no? Perhaps not as odd in form and function as in intention. No one looks forward to their own death, or the death of a loved one, even when the knowledge of their coming whereabouts is known. Death is not a pleasant thing to deal with. Taxes, well, that needs no further explanation. But what about this Christmas matter… how does THAT fit in to this mix? In practice, Christmas is a great time to look forward to for many people- gifts, trips, great food… but for some it might as well be death and taxes. Depression, grieving, bad memories, grumpy family… horrible food… that alone would ruin my Christmas!!! But what do all these things really have in common? They are catalysts, or should be.
Often times, God uses the seemingly whacky things in our circumstances to accomplish His will in our lives. Or, to even accomplish OUR will in our lives, for His glory. Let’s look at death… Death is the grand crossing over for the believer. Death was the method of choice to give a sacrifice (among others) to God in the temple. Death was the only way Jesus could fulfill His mission hear on earth, which was to rise again. Death is a robber, and death is a gift giver. (I’ve set some people’s religion on tilt there, for sure) Let’s assume, for sake of argument, that death is not a personification of the grim reaper, but rather a vehicle. How else do you propose we get to heaven? There’s two buses running that route, and one is being caught away, the other is, well, death. I am not meaning to be cavalier about the subject, but rather to deal with it in a subjective light. Death is not pleasant to those left behind, and if it comes at a great pain, then it’s not pleasant to deal with for all parties involved. Rest assured, none of us is getting out of here alive. The Word of God gives us a clear picture of that fact. Even the ones caught away had to cease living as we know it. On to better thing.. taxes.
Ahhhh taxes… we pay them, we hate them, we don’t always understand them, but let’s shed a new perspective on the matter. I am NOT saying that I agree with our current system of taxation, most of which in my humble opinion is without any sort of checks and balances, or even a crude form of accountability. Taxes are a necessary part of a non-socialist system (although if you get down to brass tacks, taxes are still a pooling of resources for the benefit of all). Taxes are the source of payroll for the ones that police our communities and keep us safe. The armies and the governing bodies are tax based. So, taxes are necessary. Death and taxes, the two are always linked in some cosmic reference to the unavoidable things in life. It’s true. Taxes are sometimes skewed in one way or another, and can seem like a dastardly foe to the ones that are struggling to make ends meet. Taxes… blech.
Now how ‘bout that Christmas? I will deal with Christmas as a practice, rather than take the Biblical time-frames into account- maybe at a later date I’ll run that gauntlet. Christmas is a time of great joy, where the whole world pauses to be decent to each other in the parking lot, and say nice things to total strangers. Gifts flying off the shelves and under trees, stocking filled with basic junk, or fruit (thanks for all those oranges while I was growing up mom!). Pies baked, hams sliced, potatoes mashed… all the trimmings on the house and on the tree. But the main thing is that little baby. That simple life, that humble beginning (in that He was born in a manger, which was really the equivalent of covered parking at a posh hotel, but still not a place the King of Kings should be brought into the world). It’s no wonder that the whole world pauses to remember this time, even if they aren’t conscious of why. The whole world has stopped for Jesus for centuries. He’s the great redeemer, the ultimate sacrifice, the fulfillment of the law. He’s the proverbial reason for the season. He is, like death and taxes, unavoidable. Yup, He’s unavoidable. No matter what your station in life, especially in America, you will deal with Jesus at some point. Every religion reconciles Jesus in one way or another, even Satanism. Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, even the new agers all reconcile Jesus in one way or another. In fact, even the atheists have built their system of non-beliefs around Jesus!! (Think about it) He is unavoidable. Like a brick wall for some, a speed bump for others, a rescue net, a drink of water, a gasp for breath… He is necessary and unavoidable. He came as a stumbling block. He came as a King. He came as a servant. He came as a sacrifice. He came as a child. He came as a teacher. He came as a hero. He came as a friend. Get the picture that He is “the man”? He is the King of Kings. While the world, and much of the body, has commercialized Jesus right out of Christmas, He is still the underlying motivator for the world to take pause and shower each other with fine things… and ugly ties.
So death, Christmas and taxes… each has their purpose in life, and each can be a sad thing to deal with. Turns out, much like Jesus himself, it depends on how you reconcile each thing determines if you benefit from it or not. The unavoidable issues in life are just that, and they are common to almost every person you will ever meet. So, when you find yourself griping about things, or encounter someone in need, know that even in those circumstances, God just might be using the unavoidable things to get your attention, or do something good for you in the end. If you are a minister, then use the unavoidable things to minister life and use them as a catalyst for the Gospel. You can’t avoid the unavoidable, but you can rightly reconcile it.