Strive to live by Christ’s example

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas is a time of togetherness and love, a time to share our blessings with the ones we love and who are special in our lives.

Without the people in our lives, our lives would have no meaning, because we are defined by our interactions with our fellow man.

The past year has been tough for many families in Natchez and Adams County, as the year nears its end.

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Fourteen young people have been killed in the past year.

Most of those young people, law enforcement officials tell us, died from violence committed by other young people in the community.

The cycle of violence is fueled, officials say, by retribution and vengeance for perceived past offenses and slights.

Such violence being conducted in our community, even if by a small, isolated segment of the community, saddens the heart at Christmas and is counter to our shared community values.

I believe law enforcement and elected officials are doing everything they can to curb the crimes, and I believe they will continue to do so until perpetrators are brought to justice.

The cycle of violence will not end, however, until the violent culture is broken by a change of heart in the community.

On Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s son who came to Earth, according to the Christian faith, to offer salvation and to teach mankind to love one another.

That seems like a simple enough message, but it also seems difficult to live up to in a world with wars, with divided cultures squaring off in camps, deeming anyone who disagrees with them as enemies.

We see it regularly in the actions of leaders in Washington, D.C., as evidenced by the government shut down we are experiencing this Christmas.

Christ taught us to turn the other cheek, but the order of the day seems to be if you hit me, I’ll hit you harder.

That is not the Christian example.

The Bible tells us God sent his son to die for our sins, so that we can be saved and have eternal life and all we have to do to be saved is accept Jesus into our lives and all is forgiven.

As we celebrate Christ’s birth today, I believe we have a greater obligation as Christians than just to accept Christ on faith to be saved.

Perhaps that is our salvation, but I also believe Christians are called to set a better example, the one exemplified by Christ’s life and teachings.

“‘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,’” Jesus said in Matthew 37-39.

Perhaps sharing our love with our fellow man, even the people we don’t always agree with, will set a better example than branding our neighbors as enemies and going to battle with them verbally or physically.

As the Rev. Birdon Mitchell said during a Community Prayer Service at Zion AME Chapel on Saturday, “Let the light of love and unity shine so that the entire community can see the one light can change the appearance in (a darkened) room.”

Merry Christmas!

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or