In the movie, “A Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future who showed him the bleakness in each stage of his life and that he didn’t have a very bright future because of his past and present course.
During this time of year, the Christian world celebrates Jesus’ birth. While we may not know the exact date of his birth, we know it was celebrated when it happened (Luke 2:1-21). Unlike Ebenezer Scrooge before the ghosts came, we can and should be joyful about Jesus’ first and second comings because of what he’s done for us in the past as well as what he’s doing in the present and what he’ll do for us in the future (Hebrews 9:27, 28; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Romans 12:12).
In the past God declared future events, particularly, that Jesus would come to conquer Satan (Isaiah 45:21-25; Genesis 3:14, 15; Ephesians 1:3-10; Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11,12). Before Jesus came the first time, God overlooked sin and let humans do as they pleased. Although they were sinful, he continued to show his love for them by providing for their needs (Acts 14:16, 17; 17:30, 31). He still does that today, but he wants us to turn to him in obedience so we can have hope for a bright future (Jeremiah 29:11; 1 Corinthians 2:6-9; Romans 8:18-25).
In the future, we’ll all stand before God to be judged for the things we’ve done in the past (Ecclesiastes 3:15; 2 Corinthians 5:10). To make that future bright, God sent Jesus to give his life for our sin so God could show himself as just, but merciful (John 3:16, 17; Romans 3:21-26; 6: 23; Galatians 1:4). Nothing that happens in the present or in the future can undo the love God showed at the cross (Romans 8:31-39). But we have to be for God or he’ll be against us (Matthew 12:30; 1 Peter 3:12; Romans 13:11-14). To help us with that during the present age, God has given Christians the Holy Spirit and Jesus is at God’s right hand so that both can intercede for us (Romans 8:1-17, 26, 27; Hebrews 7:23-35).
Jesus’ birth was the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s plan for the redemption of all of humankind who obey him without regard to ethnicity, economic or social status, or gender (Hebrews 5:8, 9; Galatians 3:26-4:7; Acts 2:38, 39). Uniting ourselves with Jesus in his death, burial, and resurrection places us in the kingdom of God, which is a matter of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, who God gives to those who obey him through baptism (Romans 6:3-5; 14:17; John 3:5; Hebrews 12:22-24; Acts 5:32). This is how we can overcome the disappointments of the past and assure a bright future.
The present, as we celebrate Jesus’ birth, is the best time to be born again and begin a life of joyful hope for the future without having to worry about the past (2 Corinthians 6:1, 2).