Keeping Christ out of Christmas

17 11 2008

keeping-christ-out-of-christmas

[Note: If you are unable to catch extreme sarcasm, do not proceed reading this]

There is a story told by a pastor in Florida concerning his son. One day while they were praying together, the son bowed by his bedside and prayed, “God, thank you for sending your only forgotten Son.” Though an obvious mistake, the Son had spoken a great truth. Jesus is so often forgotten, especially in the coming season of Advent, even though it’s basically the season of year centered on the incarnation of Christ. It’s His party and He isn’t even invited.

It is somewhat ironic that the Gospels recount the story of one Passover at which Jesus, Mary and Joseph made the journey to Jerusalem. After all the celebration and ceremony, Joseph and Mary packed up and headed out of the city only to find that they had left their son behind. They had forgotten Jesus! It was a celebration that would one day point to Him! It was His party!!

Isn’t that how we treat the Advent season? We get so caught up in all the parties and decorations and gifts that we miss the guest of honor. We forget Jesus. It’s His party! So, if we, as a church, want to maintain the status quo and keep Christ out of our Christmas this year, I’ve got some principles and tips to help us all out:

Principle #1: Forget that Christ came

Tip #1: Ignore how Christ came

In coming to us, Christ gave up so much. He surrendered the immediate presence of His Father.

He also gave up His place of honor. Philippians 2:6-7 says that Christ, “in very nature God, [did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but] made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…”

Christ also came as one of us. Philippians 2 continues, saying that Christ “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself…” John 1:1 and 14 also reveals this truth: “In the beginning was the Word” (speaking of Christ) and “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

He moved from his place of honor to a place of shame. He was born in a manger in a stall behind an inn located in the tiny town of Bethlehem in the small country of Israel. This was no king’s welcome.

In this lowly way, Christ shattered the darkness of this world. Just as the nativity star stood out unmistakably in a sky filled with thousands upon thousands of stars, that manger-born child would stand out as an unmistakable beacon of light among the billions of lives lost in darkness. John 1:6-9 narrates about this Light: “God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe…the one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”

All this we choose to ignore.

Tip #2: Ignore why Christ came

Christ came to give us the great example. Hebrews 4:15 says of Him, “[For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but] we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” He came to set the standard.

Christ also came to give His life up. Back to Philippians 2 we see that Christ “humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

It was in this that we find no higher love. “[My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.] Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” – John 15:12-13.

Christ also came to save us. Paul encouraged Timothy, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy…” ( I Timothy 1:15-16)

This too we must overlook.

Principle #2: Forget that Christ is coming again

Tip #1: Do not be ready

We must ensure that we are not ready!

Procrastination is the primary key. Tell yourself every day: “I have all the time in the world.” Don’t fret about Matthew’s warning to us: “keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:42-44)

Once you get into the habit of time-wasting, keep in mind that there is no need for a Savior. Disregard our sinful, human condition. Paul states that “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

Furthermore, we need not have Jesus for salvation. Though Jesus plainly stated “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” I’m sure we can find a way around it.

Jesus for abundant life? Who cares if Jesus said “I am the gate…I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full.” I’m just fine. Keep repeating that to yourself. “I’m just fine. I’m just fine”

In these ways, you will be sure to be unprepared for Christ’s return.

Tip #2: Do not let anyone else know

Do nothing. Don’t tell anyone! It’s that simple. Do not let anyone else know that Christ is coming again.  It’s as easy as sitting at home and watching your favorite TV show, or walking right by that depressed co-worker you see every day or even changing the conversation when people bring up spiritual concepts.

All your friends, family and acquaintances can be clueless to Christ’s return!

Principle #3: Forget that Christ is with us now

Tip #1: In our hearts

If we are to keep Christ out of this Advent season, it is imperative that we deny that He is with us now in our hearts. If we acknowledge that He is saving and transforming us into a new creation as 2 Corinthians says, then our holiday quest may be much more difficult to achieve. No, Christ is far away and doesn’t care about our lives. Remember, “I am fine. I am fine.”

Tip #2: In our prayers

Christ is not in our hearts and He certainly is not in our prayers. Hebrews 4 argues that “since we have a great high priest…let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” I say, prayers, who needs them?

Tip #3: In our service

If Christ is not in our hearts and absent in our prayers, then He is surely not in our service. Incarnational living is a farce. We should not help those who are less fortunate than us. That whole Body of Christ thing sounds pretty morbid anyway. Our church simply exists as a social club for those that just need a place to belong. Evangelism, missions, discipleship, servanthood, love…not in our church!

Conclusion

As ludicrous as this all sounds, how much different is this from the way we act? Do we go through the holiday hoopla and ignore the guest of honor? I challenge you to change the way you think this Advent season. Instead of the forgotten Son, let’s put Christ back where He belongs in our lives. He is the reason for the holiday, so let’s invite Him to the party.

Do remember that Christ came into our world 2000 years ago. Think about how He came: as one of us, sacrificing so much just to be here. Think about why He came: to live as the perfect example and save us from our sins.

Do remember that Christ is coming again. Make sure that you are ready and make sure you share His good news for everyone.

Do remember that Christ is with us. He IS in our hearts, continually transforming us. He IS in our prayers, always helping us. He IS in our service, powerfully using us.

Do not make the mistake of forgetting Christ this Advent season.

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2 responses

18 11 2008
olsuit

Hey, JB…

Great post!

29 11 2008
Martin LaBar

Good work. I note that you are writing about the church keeping Christ out of Christmas. The church must not. It should not be surprising, or troubling, that, say, Wal-Mart, CBS, or USA Today would tend to ignore Christ at Christmastime. Why shouldn’t they? They mostly ignore Him all year around. Recognizing Christ at Christmas would be hypocritical for such entities. They should be expected to recognize opportunities to sell, though. That’s what they do year-round.

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