I saw a Facebook post from a “Christian” about Christmas. It said, “I say Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays,” obviously referring to what he sees as a lack of focus on the birth of Jesus the Christ – the “Christ” part of Christmas. The trouble of course with such polarizing sentiment is that it doesn’t reflect Jesus. It also squelches the opportunity to share the profound impact this man (regardless of what you think about him) has on the world.
People sing Joy to the world, the Lord has come, for a reason. They believe, and have a boat load of evidence (both historical and experiential) to support it, that the birth of Jesus ushered in God’s kingdom – and all it entails – and there is a lot.
To put this in perspective, Jesus (again, not talking about anything divine), and his little band of followers were the catalyst for orphanages, hospitals, and leprosariums. They actually helped people who couldn’t help themselves – those jerks!
They went on to influence literacy and education (think Yale, Oxford, Harvard). They went on to start such everyday things as the Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse. Jesus’ influence even extends into 12-step programs.
In the US, our Deceleration of Independence has been influenced by this little Jewish carpenter turned Rabbi. We even get our understanding of “humility” from Jesus. None of this is religious belief, it’s historical fact. What’s mysterious about Jesus, as John Ortberg notes, is not what we don’t know about him, it’s what we do know. Who was this little baby? Is this the “one” old man Simeon spoke of?
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.
Come and see. You won’t find a sleepy little town of Bethlehem – it was a bloodbath! Folks wanted to kill this little newborn wrapped in swaddling clothes. Why? What were they afraid of? It’s just a baby, right?
Thanks for reading, and Happy Holidays!
~ Ted Olson