COMMENT: AT a time when we see many revolted by religion, it is important to go back to the very heart of the Christmas message.
Christ did not come to bring religion, and the all of the deformities that man-made regulations, rules and rituals have brought.
Instead, he came to bring love - and hope - particularly to those who needed it most - the poor, the downtrodden and the oppressed.
While the Jewish people were looking for a ruler, Christ came as a humble servant who was more concerned with hearts than man-made kingdoms.
His teachings directly confronted the religious system of the day, and condemned the hypocrites within the church who brought only judgment to the masses.
In his short time on the planet, he demonstrated the very values most Australians hold as sacred, whether they call themselves Christian or not.
Love, mateship and loyalty: laying down your life for a friend.
Jesus was a radical, a revolutionary, one who demonstrated that the poor could be loved by God just as much, or even more, than the rich.
The very fundamentals of human rights, of equality of all men, came from his teachings.
Fast forward 2000 years and we see a world that is still desperate to fill the void that Christians believe only Christ can fill.
But in words of the U2 song, we still haven't found what we are looking for. (Check out Bono's words on who is Jesus below)
Sadly, it's not even found in some of the churches established in Christ's name.
We have seen shocking cases of abuse at the hands of clergy and church run institutions, as revealed in the Royal Commission.
We have also seen epic failures with churches which appear more interested in having big buildings than big hearts.
But to be fair, we have also seen a lot of good.
Much of the charity work carried out in Australia is led by church-based organisations.
This Christmas, thousands will share a meal with a stranger because of church-organised events for the poor.
And in Australian homes today, many families will share the spirit of Christmas by giving to one another and sharing the most precious commodity in 2014 - time.
As we watch the faces of children light up at Christmas carols, singing songs of joy, peace and love, it is just as obvious in 2014 that they need something beyond themselves to believe in.
In a world increasingly cynical and in despair over our political masters, Christ's fundamental message still offers a better way forward.
The problems of a fallen world may seem beyond all of us to fix, but in our own way we can make a difference if we do what Christ did.
Love more, show kindness to a stranger, share hope with those in distress and most importantly invest in our families and those closest to us.
That is the true spirit of Christmas.
To all of our valued readers, we wish you a Merry Christmas.
May it be filled with love, laughter, joy and peace.
APN Australian Regional Media group digital editor