It’s getting close. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I’ve been Christmas shopping. I’m getting a kick out of picking out some gifts for some relatives. I’ve been singing the Christmas songs, perhaps annoying a few co-workers as I do, but hey, it’s once a year. People have been saying “Merry Christmas” to me. I said “Merry Christmas” to a lady I let cut in front of me in the checkout line. And I just went to youtube and heard Vince Guaraldi’s slick track titled “Linus and Lucy” that we all love from Charlie Brown’s Christmas.
Does that mean I’m in the Christmas Spirit? If only it were that easy. That’s all stuff that I like. Whoa, hold on. Am I thinking that being in the Christmas Spirit is something that I don’t like? Well, let’s think about what Christmas is about. Let’s turn in our Bibles to the two passages which explain the Christmas story. And no, we are not turning to Matthew or Luke. Here’s the Christmas story in one verse:
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Christmas story is about God becoming man. This is the kind of stuff that makes me realize I don’t understand God. God becomes man, but remains God. I point this out since the text above confirms this with “we beheld His glory”. Now apart from this being a fact that separates true Christianity from a cult which departs from the truths of scripture, what difference does this fact make in our Christian living? I mean, what difference does it make for me as I live my day today, that God became man? Let’s turn to the second passage which explains the Christmas story:
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
The Christmas story is more than just God becomes man. It’s God becomes a servant-man. God comes to do the dirty job that no one can do but Him. It’s Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, here to humble Himself lower than anyone had ever gone. He stooped lower than low, lower than any man would go. How much greater the descent since His starting point was so much higher! The phrase translated “made himself nothing” means “He emptied Himself”. God the Son, the Word become flesh, emptied Himself, yet remained God. He emptied Himself, became flesh, became servant of all, lower than all, and then let the unrighteous put Him to death for things He never did. How’s that for the Spirit of Christmas?
If I want to be in the Christmas Spirit, that same Spirit that led Christ to be born in the flesh, I need to have the mind of Christ like the passage above states. My pride, my desire to be right, my need to be vindicated, my want to be somebody special, all this needs to be emptied out of me as I take the position of servant; and not just any servant, lowest of the servants, not fit to scrape dirt off shoes. I need to treat my Christian brothers and sisters as if each of them is more important than me. Their interests are what interest me. Their burdens are what I am longing to carry around, and I’ll be happy about it. True humility is not thinking poorly of yourself, but thinking of yourself as a servant to be able to elevate others to new heights. Christ didn’t walk around thinking about how bad He was, but how He is the Son of God come to serve.
That’s why it’s not easy to be in the Christmas Spirit. It means that I don’t get what I naturally want. It means hard choices of making others more important than myself. When I look at that manger scene and think of the spiritual distance that Jesus came to be born in the flesh, no stooping can be too great a distance for me to bend down in order to serve. Hopefully now I’m in the Christmas Spirit. Singing and serving.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman