The first several paragraphs of this article were missed when we first posted it. This post has been updated to include the full article. Our apologies!
What is it about Christmas that brings out the character of Jesus?
Songs, books, and movies—from the rare old classics to the newest E-books just released—all duplicate the same core messages. Love each other. Give generously. Have hope, not fear. Spend time with family and friends. Peace is better than strife. Even the idea of self-sacrifice peeks out again, in spite of deep-rooted American self-gratification.
As a Christian, the Christmas season feels like a relief to my moral guard. I enjoy hearing and seeing all the examples of kindness brought to the forefront by the holiday. For once, it seems like Christians and non-Christians alike uphold godly values. They call it the Christmas Spirit, but often what they are really exalting is—brace yourself—a Christlike Spirit.
And I’m left vaguely confused, wondering: Where in all this modern, individualistic world did that come from?
Here’s my theory. What if the focus on Love, Generosity, Hope and Peace reveals the longing of our world to find the source of such things? Is this our contact point with the Answer that makes a lasting difference throughout the entire year?
Here’s exactly where Christians stand out from the crowd.
As believers, we know what real Love looks like, because our God—the author and source of love—sent His Son to face all the hardships of an uncomfortable, impoverished human life. This Man gave up everything “nice” in both life and death- a Generosity which cannot possibly be matched.
On top of that, the death He died secured our utterly undeserved place with God in heaven someday- a Hope that can never be stolen away, not by the hardest trial in life. And even in the midst of such a trial, we know that this Son of God is called Emmanuel—”God with us.” One can’t meditate on each of those three words without realizing that we’re on the winning side. Our own loving God who is in charge of the universe plants an indestructible Peace in our hearts.
Love. Generosity. Hope. Peace. Christmas unwraps the longing in all people for these values. Every soul is wired to seek God.
But Christmas, in all its noble glory, will be over by December 26. What happens then to those who don’t believe this wondrous story? Can they only wait longingly until the next December to refresh such values?
As a Christian, I can face December 26th knowing that I won’t be less loved as soon as I am no longer “home for Christmas.” Neither will I stop giving sacrificially once the year has ended. My hope for the future won’t disappear with the next terrible news story, and my soul’s peace won’t be lastingly shaken by any circumstance because Christmas has very little to do with it. No matter what time of the year, I know that my God is still loving, still giving, still in control, and still with me. If you can identify, praise God! You are rooted in the Source, not the season.
The Christmas Spirit embodies the traits, but rarely connects them to the true Source. Instead, we are pointed to self ability. And that’s where I meet my biggest Christmastime enemy: this little thing called Comfort.
Maybe it’s physical comfort that draws you (chestnuts roasting on an open fire, etc). But for me, it’s a kind of mental comfort that draws me—a comfort quickly destroyed by the act, or even thought, of sharing the gospel. I hesitate to confront the false belief of self-ability. What will they think of me? What if they won’t be friends with me?
But I know that the birth, life, and death of Christ are the most incredible happenings in human history. Oh, what gifts! Therefore, it is never enough just to say how Jesus was born years ago. I have to say why it matters to me now. And here’s the thing. When I do speak up, I am turning away from worldly comfort towards God’s grace. He, the Comforter, will not leave me alone but will live up to his name, Emmanuel.
What if you choose to give up your comfort this Christmas? Your mental comfort… the desire for ease that keeps you from speaking up. Perhaps Christmas should become the most wonderful time of the year for a new reason—to reach out to both friends and strangers with the gospel.
Walk over and actually meet your neighbors! Sing a few carols for them, or take cookies, snack mix, or a fruit basket. If you can, invite them to come over for a meal, games, or a movie. Ask about their definition of the Christmas spirit, then share about Christ, the embodiment and empowerment of all the Christmas spirit has to offer.
If you’re nervous to begin the conversation, invite a few non-believing friends to attend a nativity pageant with you. Afterward, share about the rest of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection—and about what He means in your life personally.
Bundle up, grab a friend, and take a walk through a decorated park or town, and hand out tracts that contain the whole Christmas story, perhaps with a small candy or orange attached. You may be surprised how many people will happily accept it.
Even if you don’t have a lot of free time, little everyday interactions can be used to point to Jesus. Strike up a conversation with the gas station attendant or the shopper in line behind you. Asking something such as, “Are you ready for Christmas?” can be a great lead into, “The (gifts, decorations) are fun, but that’s not the most important part of Christmas, after all. To me, the most important thing is to celebrate Jesus.”
Above all, pray. Pray when you leave your home, during any encounter, and on the way home. Pray both for yourself and for the people you’ve met, and thank God for the freedom and opportunities.
What are some other ways to share the story of Jesus during the Christmas season? Post a comment below and give us your ideas!
|Rachel Brubaker is a pseudonym, because she prefers to remain anonymous for security reasons. She is frequently shocked at her journey towards missions, which God has led her on throughout the past several years. She loves her dear family, a good pun, anything artsy or musical, real-life God stories, people who expect an honest answer to “how are you”, and of course, coffee and chocolate. Oh, and she also really wants to go skydiving someday.|