Christ in Consumer Christmas
Every year we see the Facebook posts, news articles, and hear sermons about the need to ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’; this has always bothered me. I’ve never been concerned about keeping Christ in Christmas because I personally don’t believe Christ cares to have his name associated with a consumer driven holiday.
I truly believe that Christ doesn’t want people exchanging gifts in his name that were made under unsafe conditions in sweat shops across Asia. Do you honestly believe God wants people fighting each other on Black Friday so they can get the best deals on the gifts they’ll be giving for Christmas? Would Jesus be excited to see underpaid and overworked cashiers and sales associates putting up with miserable shoppers for a month, all in the name of celebrating his birthday?
I often wonder why Christians go through so much effort to keep Christ’s name in something that he never celebrated; a time of remembrance that he never asked us to keep. Before departing, Jesus gave a set of instructions to his followers and not a single one of them mentioned celebrating his birth. Instead, what Jesus wanted us to do was live out the loving commandments of God. Jesus asked us to remember all that he did during his short time on earth so that we could go forward and do the same. Nowhere in scripture does Jesus engage in anything that remotely resembles our North American Christmas holiday.
If you would like to keep Christ in Christmas, here are a few ideas:
Be nice to the underpaid and unappreciated cashiers and sales staff. These workers are not here to be yelled at, complained about, or mistreated in any way. Remembering the fruits of the Spirit during the holiday shopping season is important, this is how we live in the Spirit of Christ.
Spend only what you can afford. If you don’t have the money to pay for items before the interest rate is added to your credit card bill, then you can’t afford the gift. Put it back. Don’t purchase it. Consumer debt is not how Christ wants us to live. If we can’t afford something, then why are we purchasing it? Wanting unnecessary material goods, buying them, ad then being in credit card debt for these items we can’t afford is called gluttony and pride. Money mismanagement is not keeping with God’s commandments and the values Jesus taught us.
Practice advent. It never ceases to surprise me how many Christians don’t celebrate advent. As a religious culture we are beyond excited to spend much energy on a one day celebration, but somehow we can’t find the time to spend several weeks focusing on why Christ came into this world and what it all means for us as followers today. Taking time each day during Advent to focus on the great gift of Jesus means never having to remind yourself to keep Christ in Christmas, because Advent is all about Jesus and our relationship with him.
Remember those who are having a Blue Christmas. The holidays can be emotionally painful for those who have experienced loss during the year, people who are having painful memories, and those who have no family to celebrate with. You don’t have to be extravagant in reaching out to them, it can be as simple as giving them a box of chocolates, an encouraging Christmas card or something that you notice they might be in need of. Knowing that you are remembered, loved, and cherished during the holidays means so much to those having a Blue Christmas.
Remember those around the world who live in areas where they cannot openly celebrate the birth of Jesus. For Christians whose lives are in danger due to their religious beliefs, they don’t have the option of trying to figure out how to keep Christ in consumer Christmas; their lives are in immediate danger. Take time to remember those who do not know the love of Christ or why God is so amazing. Review the story of Jesus’ birth and the danger that his family was in. Thousands of years later there are still leaders and rulers who fear the love and peace that Christ came to live and proclaim.
Hopefully all of this doesn’t come across as me putting the bitter in Christmas because the truth is, I love the Christmas season for reasons that aren’t really Christ focused. The holidays make me happy because I love the festivities, the beautiful lights that brighten my dark and cold city, and all the other fun stuff that make great memories. My only concern is for Christians who find it necessary to “Keep Christ in Christmas”. There is no battle. If you are a believer, Christ will be part of Christmas and you won’t get lost in the secular. Christ is meant to be in your life and in your home year round. If you make Christ a regular part of your life, you won’t have to fight to keep him there every December.