Interestingly, even though we ‘celebrate’ Christmas today, the Christ of Christmas never asked us to remember his birth but his death because his death was the ultimate purpose of his birth.
His birth and death were the ultimate expressions of divine love, I think, for all humanity and not meant to be a source of division among humanity. My conclusion from the Scriptures is that the sum of the Incarnation, Christmas, is that God became human so that God, the Creator, could die in the stead of one and all his creatures, so that each and everyone might be free to have a relationship with him or not, a relationship that is felt in what Stephen Covey calls the “circle of influence”.
If this has no implications in the present, then we should just junk it or think of it as ancient mythology. But I am convinced everyone has a decision to make including those of us who claim to believe in and follow him. I am convinced we have a decision to make as to whether we will accept him or not and it is not a religious question in my view. It is just a matter of contemplating one human being’s invitation to all other human beings and saying yes or no.
Even after receiving this Christ, I choose daily to express his love or not. I think that individual and collective destinies hinge on the decisions made about the Christ of Christmas, if the child born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago to a virgin was really God. The Christ of Christmas invites everyone to a relationship and a new way of life, not a religious experience but a new life whose outworkings. Although the relationship is spiritual and of the heart, its outworkings stand in sharp contrast to what is considered acceptable or possible in every dispensation, just as his own life on earth stood in sharp contrast to what was considered acceptable or possible.
The fact that it is an invitation, and not a forced conscription means I can make my own decision and take personal responsibility for it. Amidst what is considered acceptable or politically correct, I can utilize what Victor Frankl referred to as “the last of the human freedoms” – the freedom to choose my own thoughts or beliefs despite the pressure to do otherwise. The freedom to develop my own views rather than merely conforming to the ever changing zeitgeist.
The Christ of Christmas invites those who do not believe him as well as those who already do. He invites those who do not believe to test whatever evidence is presented to them just as they would test any evidence and arrive at their own conclusions. He did it to Thomas, one of his own disciples who refused to believe that he had risen from the dead, by physically appearing so Thomas could believe. He appeared to the Jewish terrorist Saul, who became known as Paul the Apostle and invited him to a new life. He invites those of us who believe and have received the new life to actually live it, not just a few hours a week but 24/7.
I think the Christ of Christmas challenges those of us who believe more than those who do not. My challenge and invitation from him is to live today like him, to be like him here now, to live Christ’s life as an agent of healing, grace, unconditional love in a world that is hurting and dieing for want of true Christlikeness.
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