All I hear from the Christian community at this time of year is to "Put Christ back in Christmas." And to that, I say this: Putting the word "Christ" back in "Christmas" does not put Him back in the season. As long as His followers fight and complain over having C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S printed out on every sign, how can Jesus be anywhere near? We insist that the holiday is called Christmas, but we celebrate instead a holiday called Selfmas.
As long as his followers are investing all their time, energy, and money on personal gains this holiday season, they are not keeping Christ in Christmas. When the representation of Jesus is limited to the Christmas Eve Service at church, and Starbucks coffee cups decorated just a certain way... how can He be pleased?
Just about every person I know is stuck in an American Christmas Dream. I'm stuck, too. It's the dream where the success of the holidays is determined by how much money you spent on others, and how much money others spent on you. It's about putting on a civil face and showing up to every party and event that will put you on good terms with the hosts. As the great band Switchfoot once said in their song, "American Dream,"
When success is equated with excess
The ambitions for excess wrecks us
As top of the mind becomes the bottom line
When success is equated with excess
What's sad to me is that the way most Christians live at Christmas is acceptable. It's politically proper, it's socially sensible, and it's culturally compatible. In other words, it's nothing like Jesus.
I'm proposing a theory. What if Jesus doesn't just magically show up wherever "Christmas" is written? What if Jesus isn't pleased by violent Facebook debates and pious arguments? What if, instead, Jesus resides in the places where He is represented? Anybody can wish, "Merry Christmas!" But it takes a true disciple to make the phrase mean something.
As disciples of Christ, it's our job to represent Christ in his physical absence. It's the mission He gave us. And while we say that we should be remembering that mission especially at Christmastime, oftentimes, we do the opposite. We blend in perfectly with the greed and competition all around us. We follow the frenzied crowds, wild for presents and food. There is no distinction between Christ's supposed ambassadors and the nonbelievers.
Putting Christ back in Christmas should be a sacrifice. And if it doesn't cost you something, it's not happening. I don't mean sell everything you have and forgo the Christmas celebration. No, I don't think it's the celebration that displeases Christ. In fact, I think the celebration honours Him. It's the bickering and fighting and extravagant spending and greed it takes to get to the celebration that I can't see as pleasing to Him. The vibe I get from reading the Gospels is that Jesus loves the little things. The two pennies put in the offering. The little children and those who truly care for them. Faith. Love. Joy. Hope. Peace.
What if these things became our focus this Christmas? What if we stopped frantically running around scribbling His name everywhere, and actually lived in His likeness, instead? He is here, and we could potentially prove that to the world that sees us as greedy and selfish this time of year. We can prove that He is real, and that He is present. We can prove it when we live like He would have.
Ephesians 5:1-2 - Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
1 Peter 2:9 - But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own poessession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
We can be Christ to the lost, unloved, needy, and hopeless. We can be Jesus to the world.
And that is how "Christ" is put back into "Christmas."