by Rev. Robert Warren, Bowling Green Church of the Nazarene
There are really two different responses to the coming of Jesus in scripture. There are the ones who hear something about Him or have some contact with Him but it is an impersonal encounter. King Herod is a perfect example of this, as well as the scribes, religious leaders, and perhaps the innkeeper. The extent of their encounter with Jesus was one of awareness but nothing out of the ordinary. They still went on living their lives and their encounter had no impact. Except that is for King Herod, who was impacted but in a negative way. Far from accepting who King Jesus was, he saw Him as a threat to his own rule and tried to have Him killed by massacring innocent children.
The other response was one of a personal encounter that involved faith. People who experienced Jesus in this way were never the same. The shepherds went to worship Him and the rest of their lives they believed the Messiah had come who was promised to rescue people for God. The Magi, those mysterious people from the East who came to worship Him never forgot the star and the prophecies that had been fulfilled by the God of Israel. These are the ones whose encounter with Jesus was personal, mixed with faith and therefore personally life changing.
The question of keeping Christ in Christmas is not just about putting up mangers and knowing about Jesus; it is not just a matter of making sure we spell Christmas instead of “X-mas” or sending Christmas cards that are specifically religious instead of secular, as important as these things are. We can do all these things and still be impersonal toward Jesus, and our lives unimpacted.
The question of keeping Christ in Christmas is this: have we made a personal response to Him, who He is and what He went on to do. Have we intentionally allowed, even sought, to have our lives impacted by Him. The story doesn’t end with God taking on human flesh in the manger. It ends with Jesus’ earthly life on a cross where Jesus died for our sins, so that we could receive forgiveness.
We can keep the religious emblems in Christmas, and we should, but still not be keeping Christ in Christmas. That happens through making and keeping it personal, by accepting Him as your personal Savior, and then His life through you keeps Christ in Christmas. It is by allowing Him to impact your life in significant, some might even say radical ways, that we keep Christ in Christmas.
And then we realize that the real question is not just keeping Christ in Christmas, but is realizing that to just keep Christ in Christmas is to miss the whole point. He came that first Christmas so we could keep Him in New Year’s and Easter and Independence Day and Thanksgiving; and Monday, Tuesday, on through Sunday; and morning, afternoon and night, actually 24/7.
So really, if we are going to truly keep Christ in Christmas next year, we shouldn’t wait for black Friday 2013 or First Sunday of Advent or Dec. 24, 2013. We need to start right now, every day, all year through, living for Him.
Incidentally, though His earthly life ended on a cross the story goes on. Jesus rose out of the tomb a resurrected Savior who then ascended into heaven from where He poured out His Spirit upon believers. And it is through the help of the Holy Spirit in committed believers that we have the privilege of keeping Christ in Christmas; and every day. May God richly bless you in the new year!