By D. Lanier Shook December 11, 2014
When C.S. Lewis decided to depict misery in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe he used the phrase, “Always winter, but never Christmas.” This accurately reflects the attitude most of us probably held as children that Christmas was a magical time when anything was possible. Of course anything usually meant a toy we wouldn’t dream of normally getting.
As an adult I’m not as big a fan of Christmas. Maybe its the sad state of affairs the world exists in. Maybe its the realization that everything costs money. Maybe its just life. Whatever the reason the only real antidote to apathy and depression I’ve found is Jesus Christ. Here’s five reasons why that isn’t a platitude.
1. Jesus Allows Me To See Past This Physical World
If Christmas is just about getting toys then there’ll always be a bigger and shinier toy. But the Nativity Story tells of a Child coming from beyond time and space to our world. Suddenly there’s more to life than just toys. Suddenly life has meaning. Suddenly I can hope.
2. Jesus Allows Me To Give To Others
The Nativity Story is one of a Deity leaving Paradise and coming to a world without indoor plumbing, without electricity, without democracy, without humans rights, a world without germ theory. It was a time when women and children were considered property by the enlightened folk. This wasn’t a pretty time.
What we consider atrocities were common place at the time even among the fairly enlightened. According to Roman law if a child was born disabled the parents just had to show it to two or three neighbors and then leave it to the elements. This form of infanticide is well reflected in the Greco-Roman mythology in the stories of Oedipus and Romulus and Remus.
So, for a Deity to come to live on a backwards planet was a sacrifice. If Jesus could do that then surely I can give to those less fortunate. I can stand up for those whose rights are being trampled on.
3. Jesus Sets An Example For Humility
In Jingle All The Way, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character is a father who wants his child to have the most popular action figure. He and Sinbad’s character engage in an all out, no holds barred, ethics free battle for the last one available. In our consumerism fueled culture its so easy for Christmas to degenerate into a contest to see who ends up with the best toys on Christmas Day. Whatever our age we can end up like Harry Potter’s cousin, counting our packages to see if we have more than last year and throwing a tantrum if we don’t.
But the humility of an Eternal, Omnipotent Deity coming to a dirty, violent planet to serve finite mortals changes all of that. Suddenly the other person has rights just because they’re human. Suddenly my perspective changes entirely and I’m willing to let the other person have the best toy — without having to punch a reindeer to learn the lesson.
4. Jesus Reminds Me To Remember The Least Of Us
The Nativity Story tells of a respectable craftsman who decided to marry his teenage fiance even though she turned up pregnant before the wedding. To their social circles this was scandalous. Recently a minister — whose name I’m embarrassed not to remember — pointed out that Joseph would have had distant relatives in Bethlehem. There was no reason for them to have to show up at an inn and stay in a stable.
The Nativity Story reminds me that whatever social or cultural mores someone has broken, they are still a person and I shouldn’t treat them otherwise. As Christ would demonstrate during His ministries, many of those cultural mores were man-made. Jesus sets an example to remember and respect everyone, whoever they are.
5. Jesus Gives Me Hope
Where can we find hope today? Wall Street failed us again eight years ago, Washington has repeatedly failed us no matter what our political persuasion, and even religion often fails to provide us with hope. But Jesus transcends all of these establishments.
In Luke 17:21 Jesus states that His Kingdom is within His followers. On trial just before his own death He reminded the Roman Governor that if His Kingdom was not of this World. Jesus gives me hope that there’s more to life than what meets the eye.
A Kingdom of Earth can be conquered, but a Kingdom of Love hidden in the hearts of men and women can’t. Despite the temptation to give up on humanity and shout ‘Bah-Humbug’ from the rooftop, Jesus gives me hope. And that’s something I can’t buy at any store no matter how many Christmas Parades I crash. (If you haven’t seen Jingle All The Way, its worth watching.)