Summary: How does giving gifts to your family and friends honor Jesus? Are you thinking about Jesus as you buy the gift at Wal-Mart? When you are wrapping it? When you give it to the person? Sometimes our reasons to give are not healthy. Let’s take a look at what
Christmas Conspiracy/Reclaim Christmas Series
Bless More People
Bruce B. Miller
Bless more people
I heard a story of a lady who was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable, and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, exhausted and frazzled, she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids and two hurting feet.
She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season. Overwhelming pressure to get that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, making sure we don’t forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sends us a gift or a card.
Finally, the elevator doors opened and there was already a crowd in the elevator. She pushed her way into the elevator, dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn’t take it anymore and exclaimed, “Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot.”
From the back of the elevator everyone heard a quiet calm voice respond, “Don’t worry, we already crucified him.” For the rest of the trip down the elevator it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.
We all know that modern Christmas is messed up. In our culture it is a commercial event designed to increase retail sales. Over Black Friday weekend, we spent 54 billion dollars. Every year we hear the cries to remember the reason for the season and put Christ back into Christmas. That’s what Christmas Conspiracy is all about. This series is rooted in the desire to celebrate Jesus’ birth. We are joining thousands of Christians in hundreds of churches calling for a Christmas Conspiracy. Often the word “conspiracy” is used in a negative light, but we mean it in the positive sense of a group of Christ-followers willing to stand against the culture. Jesus calls us to be counter-cultural. Let’s conspire together at Christ Fellowship to resist the forces of consumer culture telling us to buy gifts on credit cards, using money we don’t have, to buy gifts that people don’t want.
Who is this whole Christmas season for again? The big news of Christmas is that God entered our world as the baby Jesus. Jesus lived and died for our salvation. We would have no way to experience forgiveness or heaven if Jesus had not come.
I think Christmas should a huge birthday party for someone. Could you imagine if on your birthday we all gave awesome gifts to each other, but gave you nothing? So at Christmas who should get the gifts? And what kind of gifts does Jesus appreciate?
Today, I want you to open your mind to be challenged. If you have been in church for a while, you may have heard many Christmas sermons so you may be tempted to let your mind go on neutral because you think you know the story so well. Think with me: Is Christmas a Christian holiday? Of course it is in the sense that we are celebrating the birth of our Savior. But hang with me. What do most of our current Christmas traditions have to do with Jesus?
Go back with me 2,000 years ago. Let’s suppose there were no Christmas traditions. If you were starting from scratch, what kind of activities would you create to remember the coming of God to earth? Think about holidays celebrating other people. What do we do for Martin Luther King Day? We re-read his I have a Dream speech. We rehearse his contributions to racial reconciliation. If there were no traditions for celebrating Jesus’ birth, what kinds of traditions might be fitting? Take a moment to jot down a few ideas.
The Bible tells us:
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2.
Does how we currently celebrate Christmas really honor Jesus? In our modern traditions we may have conformed to our culture. I suggest that our Christmas celebration should be Gospel-directed. How can we celebrate the birth of Christ in a way that truly honors him and advances his cause? The answer will take us into being counter-cultural, into a Christmas conspiracy. What if the answer is not a few minor tweaks, but rather radical changes to what we do over Christmas? Let me warn you. This message may disturb you. It may cause you to think long and hard about what you do for Christmas.
It’s hard to step outside our cultural traditions to really see ourselves. It’s like a fish trying to see water. History can help us gain self-awareness. I find the history of Christmas absolutely shocking. In the past, I have said we need to put Christ back in Christmas, but in my research on Christmas, I have been challenged at a deeper level. Was Christ ever in Christmas? For instance, where does gift giving come from? What does it have to do with the birth of Jesus Christ?