I have been hearing a lot of people lately say that “We need to put Christ back in Christmas”. This got me thinking… I have a problem with this statement. To be a true Christian is to be a disciple, and we don’t just need to put Christ back in Christmas, we need to – Put Christ back in Christian!
For the 30 – 40 days (depending on the year), between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, every Christian puts their “God” on. We all talk about housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, helping the needy, and in general… saving the world. We show greater tolerance for people who are different than us. Diseased, addicted, promiscuous, other faiths; all these people seem to receive just a little more “acceptance” from us during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. My problem with this is that this is what Christians should be doing everyday, all year. Put Christ back in Christian!
In Matthew 25: 31-46 Jesus is telling His disciples about the Final Judgement: 31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ In the rest of the chapter, Jesus goes on to tell the disciples that when we …refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ 46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Nowhere in this teaching does Christ say “do this for only 30 – 40 days a year.” Christ was teaching a lifestyle; a lifestyle of discipleship, a lifestyle of servant leadership. Christ was not teaching a month long fad! Put Christ back in Christian!
How do we know Christ was teaching a lifestyle not just a fad? Fair question. In Matthew 4: 18-22 we see how Jesus “recruited” his first disciples. In verse 19 Jesus says: “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” In verse 22 Jesus calls to two brothers who are in a boat with their father. When Jesus called them, the left the boat AND their father behind. You don’t leave your profession or your family forever for a fad. There is no definitive time that Jesus’ ministry lasted, some say three years, some say as few as one; however even after Jesus was crucified and risen, His disciples continued His teachings for the rest of their lives. Day in, day out, all year long. This is not a fad – Put Christ back in Christian!
In Matthew 28: 18-20 Jesus gives His disciples “The Great Commission.” 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” “…I am with you always, even to the end of age.” This does not sound like a short term, month long job, this sounds like a life long event. Additionally in verse 19 Jesus says “… make disciples of all nations…” Jesus doesn’t discriminate or single out a certain type of person, He says “all nations”. If you look at Jesus’ ministry, He interacted directly and loved the diseased, addicted, promiscuous, and other faiths. These were the people he came to save. We see a few examples of this love and interaction in Mark 1:34, Luke 8: 26-35, John 4: 1-26, and Luke 10: 30-37. In Matthew 22: 36-40 Jesus tell us the Greatest Commandment: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” “… love your neighbor as yourself…” This command is only second to “…love the Lord your God…”. There is no wiggle room here; #1 Love God, #2 Love Others. Jesus doesn’t want us to do this only from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, He wants us to do this every day, all year long, all life long.
Put Christ back in Christian!