What's the media buzzing about these days? The war on Christmas. This focuses on two things: malls that are replacing Christmas trees with glaciers (which resemble less a glacier than Mork's egg-shaped spaceship) and Starbucks' seasonal coffee cups.
First, let me say that I don't think most Christians are really getting upset about these non-issues at all and, if they are, they need to refocus that energy into being upset about the things that Jesus would have been (such as taking care of the poor, the orphans, the widows, the refugees, the marginalized, and immigrants). Besides, why are we surprised that the secular world is not embracing a Christian Christmas? Christmas is about consumption, not Christ. That is why we don't just have a "Black Friday" but a "Gray Thursday" and a "Cyber Monday" and so on so that we can go into debt to buy stuff we don't need and sometimes don't really want. But I digress, that is a whole other blog post . . .
Of course, as the holidays approach, we will also begin to see bumper-stickers and car magnets and posts on social media about putting "Christ" back into "Christmas." First off, let me just say that the image above is ridiculous to me.
Secondly, the truth of the matter is we need to put Christ back into the "Christians" (or those who claim to be). If Christians truly lived out their lives and their faith in the manner that Jesus called them to, then all of these other non-issues would be irrelevant because we would be in this world loving others with a gut-level compassion as Jesus did. Our hearts would love others as He did.
Lately I have been reading the Gospel of Luke and I love that he writes these words right before Jesus tells the Parable of the Lost Sheep: Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to Him . . .
Isn't that how it should be with all who follow Jesus?
And I had to ask myself: Do I draw sinnners near to me or do they avoid me like a Pharisee?
Isaiah tells us that "the Lord waits to be gracious to you" (30:18). Are we, who have experienced this graciousness first-hand then extending that to those around us?
Earlier, I mentioned the word compassion. In Hebrew, compassion is derived from "raham," which means "womb." The compassion of Christ is like being in the mother's womb. It is all encompassing, all nurturing, all providing, and is what sustains our lives. And we are called to love as Christ loved. To have compassion as Christ did.
We should be doing this because as Romans 8:14 tells us, "For whoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons and daughters of God." This is because when we are led by the Spirit, we are led by "caritas." This is the Latin word for the kind of love Christians are called to have for humanity and means "love for all."
Christmas is about "For God so loved the world" and we should reflect that kind of love because His Son is within us, transforming us by His grace and His love. So I need to ask myself: Am I?
As a Christian, I need to let go of the checklists and credit cards that dominate this season in a retail-fueled frenzy and focus on what Christ focused on: people.
Like Christ, I need to be connected, communal, and relational.
Perhaps if we stopped complaining about the stupid coffee cup and buy someone around us one and share conversation over that coffee, then we would see real change.
I need to walk in the true Spirit of, not just the season, but of my life (love, joy, peace) and then see how it will not only change the Christmas around me, but within me. Only when we, as believers and followers of Christ, do this will we begin to truly change our culture and our Christmas season.