The Real Christ of Christmas
Jesus is the reason for the season. That's the truth; Christmas is about Jesus. Even so, I think we Christains often miss the point.
We followers of Christ love to emphasize that there can be no Christmas without Christ. After all, Christ is in the word Christmas. And, furthermore, our point of celebrating Christmas is to celebrate the birth of the Christ child. And we Christians boycott companies who fail to promote Christmas the way it should be promoted. We Christians are very aggressive about our support of Christmas. No one should ever try to take Christ out of Christmas!
It is true, Christmas is about Christ. You can't take Christ out of Christmas and think you've celebrated Christmas. Christ came to seek and save those who are lost. (See Luke 19:10.) That is the message of Christmas. Neither can you take Christ out of Christianity and claim to be a Christian. Yet many of us Christians have done exactly that by our un-Christlike behavior. And we've done so right in the middle of Christmas.
Most of us have misunderstood the real meaning of Christmas. During the Christmas season, we highlight Mary because she was highly favored of the Lord. We make a big deal of her being the chosen one, and we focus on the birth of the Christ child. But even though all of this is important to the Christmas event, I think the emphasis was meant to be placed elsewhere.
Yes, Mary was highly favored and chosen by God to participate in the fulfillment of His plan. Though Scripture says generations would call her blessed, her involvement was not intended to promote the worship of Mary. Mary's story, like many others throughout biblical history, is simply one of a humble servant who was willing to abase herself for God's use. Though she couldn't see the whole picture, she understood a little of what her commitment would cost. Still, Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38, ESV). Mary agreed to serve not only God but also humanity. And from her perspective, the journey ahead would prove to be long and hard.
Of course, baby Jesus is the focal point of Christmas. We love the cozy nativity scene that portrays Jesus swaddled in a hay trough with his parents, the wisemen with their gifts, and the shepherds with their flocks looking on. But let's not forget what His road looked like. We hardly ever include it, but His suffering is part of Christmas, too.
We clamor after God's favor; we want Him to choose us; and we love to tell others about how we Christians are chosen and favored. While we should seek God's favor, and we should desire His choosing of us, and though the Bible says His people are a chosen generation, many of us focus on being chosen and favored for the wrong reason. Chosen and favored are words we use to make ourselves sound important. But being chosen and favored is never about us; it's about Him. God doesn't choose and favor those seeking favoritism.
Being a Christian is not about fame or fortune. It's not about being special; it's about serving. Mary served at the cost of her own comfort. Jesus served at the cost of His life. God is not looking for favorites; He's looking for servants. And He will favor and choose any who are willing to abase themselves for His purpose. Serving God's purpose requires great humility and sacrifice.
My husband and I have been in a transition in ministry for several years. And this portion of our journey towards fulfilling God's purpose has included limited financial means. God has been our provider and has used people to bless us; we are thankful for God's provision. Even so, we have also been frustrated at times by our circumstances. We often feel like takers with little means for giving back.
I was worried about Christmas this year. We didn't know if we'd have money to give gifts to our children, but we knew we could explain the situation to them, and they would understand. We were most concerned about our lack of means to give to others besides our children. After so many have given freely to us, how could we not give something back? So we prayed and asked God to give again so we could give. And He did. Though we can't give much, and we don't have to give to everyone to whom we want to give, He did provide enough for us to give something back to a few. We have been financially blessed by others, but they have given us much more than money. We know we could never repay those who have given so much to us. We are humbled and thankful!
I hestitated sharing what I've just shared because I don't want my transparency to be misinterpreted. I'm not promoting my own humility; I'm not proud of being humble. But I decided to tell you about our circumstance because my experience taught me something about Christmas I've never recognized before.
Jesus is the reason for the season because Christmas is about giving and receiving with humility. It's about serving. John 1:1-17 tells of Jesus washing His disciples' feet. When Jesus bent to wash Peter's feet, "Peter said to him, 'You shall never wash my feet.' Jesus answered him, 'If I do not wash you, you have no share with me' (John 1:8, ESV). This exemplifies the whole point of the life of Christ, which
was about serving God's purpose and serving humanity. Not only did Jesus teach serving with humility, He also taught receiving with humility.
Many thought the Messiah would come in a loud and flamboyant way, but, instead, He came through humble circumstances. Though He is the King of kings, He didn't come as a king at all. Rather, He came as a humble servant. We Christians are supposed to follow Christ's example. We are to serve God and others and receive from God and others, not for fame, fortune, or personal promotion but for the cause of Christ. The focus of participating in God's purpose should never be about seeking to be highlighted as God's favorite, but, rather, it should be about seeking to do God's will regardless of what it may cost. God will favor and choose those who are willing to give and receive with humility. God will favor and choose the one with the servant's heart.
While we Christians celebrate Christmas, while we engage in giving and receiving, let's remember the real reason for the season. Let's remember the real Christ of Christmas, and let's be Christlike about it. Let's be real Christians on Christmas!
PS: I will be taking time off from blogging until after Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone! I pray your celebrating is blessed.