Meditations (Web)Church

A year (and a bit) in the life of NewSpring's first Web pastor

The spirit of Christmas in the “evangelical” heartland

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In my past life, I used to be a newspaper columnist, among other things.

Once in a while, I’d sneak in some evangelism under the guise of commentary. This column was originally published Dec. 21, 2007, and it still seems to sum up where I’m at with regard to the paradox of Christian grumpiness about Christmas. Enjoy!

Christmas should be a gift for Christian evangelism. Too bad many Christians don’t seem to have realized it.

If the modern Christian church had hired Madison Avenue to do a PR campaign to symbolize God’s lovingkindness and forgiveness, they could have done a lot worse than come up with an annual gift-giving party.

Clearly, Jesus must be pretty amazing if he makes people spontaneously gush with joy and generosity.

Sounds like a winner. Just one problem: Christians, sometimes, just seem too grumpy to do the job.

Every year, it seems, there’s huffing from the Bill O’Reillys and the religious advocacy groups of this world about how Christmas is “under attack” from the heathen hordes who don’t respect the Christian origins of the holiday.

A few years ago, I remember that one northeast Georgia business owner who wanted to “share” his Christmas spirit by blaring Christmas carols in downtown Lavonia, Ga., went as far as to say that if people didn’t like it, “You can go somewhere else.” Sounds like brotherly love to me.

I wish I could believe that all of this was an overflow of passion for defending the faith. But to me, it sounds more like Christians are just mad about having to explain themselves at all. And I thought I lived in the evangelical heartland!

Wanting an unthinking homage to “Christmas tradition” really doesn’t do the Christian faith many favors.

If the holiday has been co-opted by pleasure-seekers and capitalists, I say, “Great!” It’s just another great example of the way human beings simply can’t stop themselves from perverting and polluting what starts out pure and holy.

But look at this way: The more materialistic and self-obsessed the holiday becomes, the more chance there is for the true work of the Christmas spirit to shine. A bit like Ronald Reagan and his pony.

Personally, I like to look at Christmas as the first street-level, viral advertising campaign for God. Given that he’s supposed to have made everyone, it’s reasonable to expect that he might know what works when it comes to getting our attention.

That might explain why God “wrapped up” what it means to be loved by Him by giving everyone a gift. (The kicker, of course, being that a lot of people didn’t want to believe it was really any sort of gift at all. God loves irony, doesn’t he?)

My hunch is that if more Christians were focused on making sure they were giving gifts in the true Jesus spirit — sacrificial, unexpected, undeserved, unbelievable — we might continue to shock the world and get God the attention he’s always wanted.

Christians have it in them. And the good news is, they don’t need to wait until Christmas to prove it.

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Written by NickCharalambous

December 22, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Posted in ruminations

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