Keep Christ in Christmas?

It seems like everywhere you look on your news feed, whether on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you see a similar theme: keep Christ in Christmas! Jesus is the reason for the season! Make sure you say “Merry Christmas!” when you are paying at the store! Don't let the world take Christ out of Christmas!

I spent some time thinking about this over the last week and tried putting it into practice while I've been out shopping for Christmas presents. On the other side of the till there would be a myriad of different types of people from all over the world who have moved here to make a better life for their families and have taken any job they could get to do so.  I found I had to work myself up so by the end of the transaction I could say those magic words that would keep Christ in Christmas and not allow the world to take it from me. I didn't want to let Jesus down. As the items slid across the barcode scanner one at a time—beep, beep, beep—the pressure began to mount. I would be thinking, When can I slip it in?  I did not want to sound disingenuous. After all, I'm fighting for my Savior! After some small talk, the cashier would ask me for the money.  I would tap my credit card, grab my bags and then that magic moment would come—the moment I would keep Christ in Christmas. Quickly I slipped out the words “Merry Christmas!” and walked off with my bags.

When I made it back to my van, I calmed my breathing down and wiped my sweaty palms. OK, maybe it wasn't quite so dramatic, but I begin to think about the experience I just had. It reminded me of when I used to go on the street with teams of believers to witness to people at random. It was an incredible amount of pressure to have to find somebody to share the gospel with so you'd have a story to share with the group when everyone returned to the church. I experienced similar pressure to speak and share the gospel with the person beside me on a flight. I would think, What if we crashed? I would want to make sure they knew Jesus. I may be the only person in their life that gives them the opportunity to know Christ. Wow! What pressure!

The truth is, this pressure often made for very uncomfortable conversations where I was always looking for the opportunity to tell the person about Jesus and how much they needed Him. This replaced building genuine relationship.  It was like I was trying to sell something to them. I know a thing or two about sales, as I've been in it for over twenty years. In sales, you always have an angle. You're trying to get them to purchase your product or service. Often it would be one particular product or service; the one from which you received the most commission. However, it was in sales that I also learned to put the customers’ needs first and I became successful because of this. You take care of the customer and they will take care of you.

Unfortunately, many Christians are trying to sell Jesus, rather than be Him. The great commission is not about commission. It's not about notches on your Bible. It's about lives being changed. I want to be clear that I am not against street witnessing or sharing the Gospel with people you interact with as you go throughout your day. I actually think that this is an important part of our walk with Christ. What I am saying is that it should be heart felt and Spirit led, not out of obligation or just for the numbers. It's only been in the last year or so I've been able to relax and allow God to be God. The Holy Spirit is always moving on the earth, preparing people's hearts to receive the gospel.

In John chapter 4:35 it says the fields are ripe for harvest. One of the most powerful teachings I've heard on this was when a pastor came to our church from Michigan and spoke on the domino effect. He spoke on John 4:37, which explains how one will plant and another one will harvest. Basically, you are only one domino in the chain of a person going from not knowing Christ to knowing Christ. You are only one piece of the puzzle, not the whole show. This concept is powerful because it releases you to treat the other person as a human being—get to know who they are, where they come from, what other challenges they may have, and how you could be Jesus in their life. Many people, especially those who have moved from a foreign land to make a better life here, are lonely and want only one thing—friendship. This is a practical need that is easy to meet. We can start to walk out our faith by being Christ, not just speaking about Him—helping people have a merry Christmas rather than just saying the words.

James speaks about this when he says faith without works is dead (James 2:26). I can share with you from personal experience that the more you be Christ and show love, the more people are open to hearing about Him and His love, and the more they'll want to know the reason for the season. I have led more people to Christ by being Christ-like than just trying to sell Him to them. Do I think we should say “Merry Christmas?” Yes, but they are not magic words. We also need to help people have a merry Christmas! So relax, let go and let God! Have a very merry Christmas!