'Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.' Luke 13:24
If we really want something worthwhile we need to work hard for it. That's what often makes it worthwhile.
The kingdom of God is no exception to that rule. Yes, we receive Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and faith; no man can be born again unless by the spirit of God. But if we truly want to enter the kingdom and become part of it we need to work hard.
I was thinking of the different people in the Christmas story. They all had to work hard too.
Mary and Joseph on their long journey to Bethlehem, finding nowhere to stay, having strange visitors from distant lands and then having to flee to Egypt before the child was more than two years old. Anna and Simeon in the temple had to work hard knowing the mind of God and watching for the promised Messiah. How long had Simeon waited; he knew he would see the Christ child before his eyes closed in death. The shepherds out working hard on night shift, suddenly encountering strange supernatural powers which frightened them. Why would the angel say 'Fear not...' if it were not so. They had to leave their flocks and seek out this small infant laid in a feeding trough for animals! And then there was theseeking wise men who searched the skies for this special event, who travelled perhaps thousands of miles to visit this child, who encountered an evil king en route and had to be warned and probably disturbed in their sleep not to go back to him.
Each one of these had to work hard - but what a reward! Owing to the fact of their watchfulness they experienced the greatest story ever told. Their story is mingled with the Christ child's, and now, billions of people down through the generations learn of their part in the story every year.
Yet more than this, they encountered that eternal light that entered the world. Though the world didn't understand it, they did. They came and worshipped because they understood this was God.
Sadly, we don't have the same opportunity they had. This wonderful historic event has passed but we have our own present day events. If we watch with carefulness we too will have opportunity to experience this true Christmas glory; the gift of God to men. We will be given opportunities to come and worship and if we are careful something of the awe, fear and wonder will break on us too.
Therefore 'work hard to enter' because many this Christmas will fail. They will fail to find the true glory and silence of Light that has shone into our lives through the birth of Jesus Christ.