“You are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
During this time of year, many people go about spreading good tidings of great cheer with trite little phrases such as “keep Christ in Christmas,” or “ Jesus is the reason for the season.” With all the commercialism and materialism that has become the mainstay of Christmas, it is important to remember what the true meaning of the holiday is; so often Christ’s birth becomes secondary to our capitalistic distortion of Christmas. For many others, such phrases and tidings serve as a stand against growing sensitivities for inclusiveness and political correctness.
The problem is, though, that too often we are too successful in keeping Christ in Christmas and we forget about Him the rest of the year. Babies are precious, they can bring people together, they do not demand anything other than love and care; people like the baby Jesus for these reasons. The infant Christ represents hope for the future and God’s redemptive promise. The baby Jesus is safe; he does not offend, nor does he convict. The baby Jesus does not make people uncomfortable. The baby Jesus does not challenge the system, nor does He assert His authority. The baby Jesus, like any other infant, is meek and mild and sleeps in heavenly peace.
If the story ended there, people would not have a problem with Jesus, and many more would follow Him. The story does not end there, and Christ, like all infants, grows up. Christ grows into a man who preaches the Kingdom of God and confronts sin. He grows up into a man who challenges the social, political, religious, and economic systems of His day. He grows into a man who was radical in His preaching, teaching, and ideologies; a man who clearly states that being associated with Him is not the ‘safe” choice. Christ grows into a man who demands complete and total allegiance from those who follow Him, and for the abandonment of anything that would interfere with following Him. Christ grows into a man who promises trial, hardship, and death to those who seek to be His followers. Christ grows into a man who was arrested, convicted, beaten and humiliated, flogged and degraded, whipped and mocked, and executed. Christ grows into a man who will die alone, forsaken by God and man, for the sins of all humanity. This is the Christ of the other 364 days of the year. This is the Christ that makes people uncomfortable. This is the Christ that many don’t want to think about or associate with. This is the Christ we forsake when we idolize the infant in the manger. Thank God for sending Christ to the world, but thank God even more for the sacrifice of Christ’s death and the salvation that it brings. Christ did not defeat death and bring hope and salvation to man just by being born, that task was only accomplished through His suffering and agony.
Don’t put Christ in a box that you pull out once a year. Don’t keep Christ in Christmas; celebrate Christ every day of the year.