I am writing this on Thanksgiving morning having woken up too early. A thought came up as I was reflecting about this day – have you ever wondered how Jesus would live His life during our season from Thanksgiving to Christmas?
If He lived today, how would He deal with Thanksgiving being turned into “the shopping day” and Christmas turned into a season where the culture minimizes the true meaning of Christmas – the incarnation of Christ himself.
Let me be clear, my goal isn’t to start a war against Christmas by asking the question. I am simply recognizing that between the great deals of Black Friday and the pace people set to celebrate Christmas, it isn’t conducive to focusing on Jesus. Between jingle bells, Christmas parties, presents and family gatherings, I know that I struggle to keep my attention focused on the birth of a Savior.
But it’s also true that Christmas is a holiday created by the church long after Jesus ascended into heaven. I understand asking, “what would Jesus do” means speculation to some degree. But I also believe that Scripture give us hints to decide how He would spend this season.
My belief is that Jesus would celebrate Christmas!
There are many places throughout the Gospels that record Jesus participating in the holidays of His culture. He ate holiday feasts with His family and friends (Matthew 26:18-19) and John 7 shows Him attending church with His family during the Festival of the Tabernacle.
Jesus wouldn’t have had a “kill joy” attitude. He didn’t isolate himself away from His culture, so I doubt Jesus would ask us to ditch the entire celebration based on a speculative principle. I believe He would join us at the school events and family dinners and would accept an invitation to join in even decorating our Christmas tree.
But I also think that Jesus would have lived above the chaos and would have remembered the kingdom of God as a reality, even within a life that was busy. (Hint – his life was always busy!) Jesus wouldn’t focus on “presents” but rather focus on “presence.”
It is very clear that he didn’t focus on stuff. Think about Matthew 6:19, where He said,
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.“
He never said stuff was bad and I don’t see any evidence in Scripture that He would say giving each other gifts is wrong. But He did warn us that our stuff isn’t as important as we think it is. And yet He was a gift giver to those people around him: He gave his attention; He gave grace; He gave his love; He gave forgiveness; and He gave himself to those people that were in His presence. Think of the woman at the well.
What if we could consistently think “Kingdom” like Jesus? “Presence” first and the other “presents” second. It would mean a shift of thinking and perspective when we were around other people. Think about the fundamental attitude shift needed to move the person in our presence spiritually toward the King of the Kingdom! Questions like:
- Do they need a relationship?
- Do they need me just loving them?
- Do they need hope from the discouragement that may be evident in their lives or…
- Do they need the good news of Jesus himself?
Understand that a “Kingdom” perspective means having Kingdom eyes, seeing people and thinking about what we could do to move them one step toward Jesus, the “real” gift!
Jesus took advantage of those times when many people were gathered to celebrate a festival to reveal truth about God. We can do the same thing. Who will be at your Christmas event who doesn’t know Him? Who might be sitting at your Christmas dinner table who doesn’t have hope that only Jesus can give? Follow Jesus’ lead, and take the unique opportunity to practice “presence” over “presents.”
Have a great Christmas season!