“The Spirit of Christmas”

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            This time of year we often hear many jingles and sayings about Christmas and what Christmas is about.  Perhaps you have been told that Christmas is about giving.  This would be a good thought and a noble ambition.  Maybe you have heard that—“Jesus is the reason for the Season.”  Once again this is an accurate statement.  But if I can dig a little deeper, I still think that there is a thought that God would have us contemplate and embrace.

            The spirit of Christmas is surrender.  As you read the word “surrender” you might say—“Yes, I can see that thought.”  Jesus surrendered his throne in Heaven to come to this world and be our redeemer.  Jesus, who was fully God, lowered himself to become the God-Man.  Jesus came to this world not as a King to be bowed before, Jesus came to this world as a servant.  Jesus came to this world and avoided applause so that he could embrace execution.  If you roll these thoughts around in your mind you can see that “surrender” easily describes Jesus and the Christmas story.

            But since we are digging, let us not stop half way.  If we only remember what Jesus did we are doing Jesus a disservice. Jesus did not simply surrender his divine place of importance and supremacy, Jesus calls you and me to surrender as well.

            Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he calls people to follow him.  This call to follow Jesus is a call to imitate Jesus.  The sad truth is that many Christians are only willing to “applaud” Jesus.  They are not willing to “imitate” Jesus.  Pointing to Jesus and giving out a hearty—“hoot, hoot, hoot” is not discipleship.  Looking at Jesus’ example and imitating Jesus is what we are challenged to do.

            Throughout the year we acknowledge and applaud the birth and lives of great men.  This past year there has been:  George Washington’s birthday, Martin Luther King day and many other notable remembrances.  Is that what Christmas is for us as well?  I believe that the Church, in its earliest days, celebrated Christmas as a time to remind themselves that Jesus is Lord and Savior.  I believe that Christians in centuries past were challenged to surrender for the cause of Jesus.

            The idea of “surrender” is not popular today.  I’m not sure it has ever been popular.  We rebel at being told what to do.  We chafe at the things “surrender” requires.  Let me close this blog by asking a simple question:  When was the last time you surrendered to Jesus?  For most of us, we do what we want.  We often speak of sacrifice and hard work.  But when was the last time you stopped what you were doing and surrendered your life to God?  When was the last time we made a radical life change in the name of surrender?  To do this is to begin to understand the spirit of Christmas.  Keep looking up.