The census that matters

It’s census day in the UK.  The idea is that every decade, each household must complete a form declaring who is at the address on the day, their race, gender, religion etc.  The data is used for planning and policy making purposes as part of public life. It also is eventually released online and can be helpful for marketing, political campaigning and evangelism, although I have found increasingly that the data is out of date pretty much as soon as it is published.

Census day reminds us, even if not quite at the right seasonal time of Mary and Joseph heading back to Bethlehem to take part in the census called by Augustus Caesar.  It is the fact that they were there for census purposes that provides an important clue to suggest that Jesus was not born in a stable behind the lowly inn. Rather, the word  often translated “inn” in Luke 2, more likely refers to an inner or upper guest room in the family home.

However, there’s another, far more important census in the Bible.  In the New Testament, we see frequent mention of something referred to as “The Book of Life.” We see that it matters whether or not your name is written in it (Philippians 4:3, Revelation 13:8, 17:8). Those whose names are written in it can look forward to eternal life whereas, those who not will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:1), these are the ones who will submit to the beast (Revelation 17:8).  The book is more than a list, it described the deeds of those whose names are contained in it (Revelation 20:12).   It is also worth observing that our greatest fear, greatest risk is that our name might be blotted out from the book. However, there is a wonderful promise to those who truly belong to Jesus that this will not happen (Revelation 3:5). Furthermore, if our names were written in before the foundation of the world, this points to the assurance which God’s election gives. We trust in him for assurance and security. Our names were there before we were born, before the world began. This reminds us that salvation is based on God’s grace not our works (Revelation 13:8).

So, if you’ve not done so yet today, make sure you get round to completing your census form.  However, prioritise making sure that your name is in the book of life. 

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