During the season of Advent this year, a North Carolina-based faith and culture leader has spoken out about what so many people desperately need right now.
“Christmas tells us things about God,” said Dr. Alex McFarland of Greenville, North Carolina.
First of all, “Christmas brings hope — tangible, life-changing hope,” he said.
“And our world sorely needs it.”
Added McFarland in comments to Fox News Digital, “Over the last decade, and especially since COVID, volumes of mental health research have documented the severely detrimental effects of isolation, loneliness and stress.”
He said that one often-cited study found that” loneliness and associated depression were as unhealthy for the body as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.”
In reporting on this, he added, “even the American Psychological Association lamented that fewer people attend church these days — something that wonderfully provides people with continued socialization and feelings of ‘belonging.’”
So — “what might this have to do with Christmas?” said McFarland.
“A lot, actually.”
He said people should “ponder the magnitude of what Christmas is about: Almighty God entered the stage of human history out of love for each of us, personally. Acknowledgment of this fact is transformative,” he added.
“Christ’s life as recorded in Scripture is why we can still have hope in this world. If Jesus Christ really came here — then what it says about each of us is also true.”
McFarland noted, “And what does Scripture say about you and me? That we matter to God.”
“Christmas reminds us of the Christ who promised that He will receive all who trust in Him, and of those who do, not one will be turned away (John 6:37).”
So, “this Christmas, remind yourself what Jesus’ birth, life — and promised return — truly mean,” said McFarland.
“‘My life has purpose, and I matter to God.’”
He added, “The manger reminds us that Jesus sees humanity with unconditional love, and this was coupled with a willingness to embark on a rescue mission that just happens to be the central focus of history.”
McFarland is a youth, religion and culture expert.
Among his books: “Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home.”
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