In 1843, Charles Dickens wrote the famous book, “A Christmas Carol,” in which he unraveled his story using a rather uninspiring ill-natured man named Ebenezer Scrooge. While many of us have fallen in love with this character, popularizing his phrase “bah humbug” to describe less than spirited Christmas participants, the reality is that Ebenezer would not likely be someone you’d be sympathetic towards if met in real life. He was an unlovable outcast destined to rot away in the four walls of his rather imprisoned home while living a life of greed and gluttony. But, you see, I am Ebenezer, you are Ebenezer, and, yes, even the most bright-eyed kid on Christmas morning is Ebenezer. Let me explain:
The Bible says in Ephesians 2: 1-5,
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
Paul teaches us in Ephesians that “bah humbug” came long before “hallelujah.” We were all dead in our past, destined for a life of hopelessness (like that of Scrooge) until Jesus came to change our future forever. His grace, undeserved by all of us, allowed our Ebenezer-like race to find mercy. In Dicken’s story though, Scrooge needed a visit from four people to begin to see change take place: his old business partner Jacob Marley (ironically, bound in heavy chains), the ghost of Christmas past, the ghost of Christmas present, and the ghost of Christmas future. However, according to Paul’s account in Ephesians, luckily we do not need these visitations in order to discover the truth.
Our past without Jesus as Lord and Savior can easily equate to Scrooge living miserably for his flesh, trying to satisfy all that is temporary. Likewise, our present and future as depicted by the ghosts in Dickens story, are equally doomed if we shun the love offered to us by God, refusing to spread it to those around us. We must love God and others in order to begin to change the heart of what matters and we cannot do this properly until we recognize the depth in which we were so gravely lost and what exactly we were destined for. The reason Scrooge had a testimony was because he was given a second chance – a chance to change before it was too late. He saw where he had been, where he was, and what he was headed towards, and this left him in utter terror. As his journey’s dream ended, he saw the truth: his life meant nothing because of the way in which he had chosen to live it. We are no different; indeed we are all Ebenezer Scrooge until we encounter Jesus.
The Christmas story told in Luke, not the cleaver carol by Dickens, allows us to receive a second chance. Our life can start again; we have the amazing opportunity to change our past by acts of Jesus on the cross. We can choose to make our present moments count and we can be like Paul, pressing towards the goal of our future. We are no longer Ebenezer Scrooge, but have the opportunity to live a life redeemed solely by the love of Christ Jesus.