This is my birthday weekend, so to help me celebrate the fact that I’ve lived another whole year, I decided to give all my readers a gift they never expected, so brace yourselves. I’m planning to deliver a post that (hopefully) will be briefer than normal and to the point (and you can pause the laughing – ’cause it hurts my feelings). Christmas is a week away, and there is probably no approach or perspective on Jesus’ birth that hasn’t been explored a thousand times by people much more capable than me. So today’s offering is not an attempt to find some way to seem innovative or distinctive (like maybe speculating on what Jesus’ DNA would have looked like). I just want to highlight a simple choice we can all make that can have a powerful impact on how we experience Christmas and how we greet the new year that follows.
An Efficient Exchange ~
The choice I’m referring to was suggested by a question expressed in the process of someone serving coffee, and it simply referenced whether or not the recipient wanted cream with their coffee. The question was stated clearly and concisely with no elaboration, and the answer was just as compact and efficient. Oddly enough, both the inquiry and the answer employed the same terms and was simply, “With, or without?” All in all, it was such an uncomplicated, easily understood, and very effective exchange, so I decided to borrow it.
But what does any of that have to do with celebrating Christmas? Well, to answer that question we can turn for a minute in a non-Biblical direction. While scanning your TV movie guide, you may have noticed that between the Hallmark and Lifetime networks, a new Christmas movie seems to debut every week, if not every day. (Well, okay, on second thought, using a term like new might be a little overstated.) They do attempt to project some variety by making slight changes in the titles, and they swap around the guys and gals who get to kiss each other in the final scene, but the similarities are notorious. The plots aren’t all that deep, and the action doesn’t have you sitting on the edge of your seat and biting your nails, but some of the elements they have in common are encouraging.
Wall to Wall “Coverage” ~
For instance, the characters manage to keep their clothes on for the entire production, an accomplishment that the Hollywood crowd seems to find unattainable these days. Beyond that, there are no obvious sexual innuendoes, and they seem to be able to carry on conversations without employing coarse, obscene, or just plain filthy language. In spite of the crumbs they occasionally toss to the LGBT lobby, they’re considered to be clean viewing.
The movie producers obviously attempt to blend Christmas with idyllic romance and to portray the mix in every conceivable setting, but regardless of the venue, the theme is consistent. The unmistakable message is that one can have a real Christmas; i.e., one that is nostalgically comforting, traditionally consistent, culturally satisfying, and emotionally fulfilling while having their dreams come true without directly involving any reference to, or connection with, Jesus at all. To say it simply, you can have Christmas with or without Jesus. And in spite of the nonsensical stuff, like a couple having a romantic, candlelight dinner outside in the freezing cold, and the stereotypical hogwash, their premise is true . . . You can, indeed, have “Christmas” without Jesus.
No Coercion ~
Every year, the marketing and entertainment world reinforces the notion that their brand of Christmas can bring you peace and joy and gobs of fun and good food without thinking about Jesus, apart from the little ceramic baby in your nativity set’s manger. Christmas, or the Winter holiday as some are calling it, doesn’t require Jesus at all. But when it comes to Christmas and Jesus, we have a choice . . . We can include Him or leave Him out.
With Him, we have special access to the characteristics that His Spirit produces. Look at them carefully and ask whether your Christmas traditions might be even better with the addition of qualities like these:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22–23 NKJV)
Obviously, people are free to engage in their Christmas traditions without mentioning the birth of Christ or believing the Bethlehem story, but the practice of dismissing Jesus can get problematic. We’ve proven that we can have Christmas without Jesus, but no one can have Jesus and all that a relationship with Him means and deny the Biblical account of His birth – and that applies to everything that lies beyond the lights and tinsel. We can go about our lives and refuse to acknowledge Jesus at all, but consider Paul’s assessment of what life without Him means:
… that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12 NKJV)
A Choice, not a Mandate ~
There’s a choice to be made that affects more than our enjoyment of one of the most festive seasons of the year. Leaving Jesus out of our lives isolates us from God’s promises and the hope those promises ensure. It’s a choice, not a mandate, but the consequences are unavoidable.
Now, back to that coffee service . . . I noticed something. An interesting phenomenon had occurred for those who chose to have their coffee with cream. Once the cream was added, it permeated the whole cup, and the coffee became indistinguishable from the cream. That same principle applies to our Christmas question about Jesus. So, as this Christmas approaches, what will it be for you? . . . “With, or Without?”
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “The practice of dismissing Jesus from Christmas can get problematic. We’ve proven that we can have Christmas without Jesus, but no one can have Jesus and all that a relationship with Him means and deny the Biblical account of His birth.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “We’ve proven that we can have Christmas without Jesus, but no one can have Jesus and all that a relationship with Him means and deny the Biblical account of His birth – and that applies to everything that lies beyond the lights and tinsel.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “There’s a choice to be made that affects more than our enjoyment of one of the most festive seasons of the year. Leaving Jesus out of our lives isolates us from God’s promises ‘and’ the hope those promises ensure. It’s a choice, not a mandate, but the consequences are unavoidable.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
Check out Ron’s book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth”
The Kindle e-version is just $1.99. No Kindle device is needed. E-book readers are included on most computers, tablets, and smartphones. If you don’t have one, the free Kindle app can be easily downloaded directly from the Amazon site on almost any device.
Click here for a “Look Inside” preview at Amazon.
© 2021 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
In the spirit of brevity, let me simply say, “With please, and make mine a double!” Merry CHRISTmas and God’s blessings Mr. Ron and Ms. Diane.
Happy Birthday, Ron! Danny’s birthday is this weekend, too, the 19th to be exact, so we will be celebrating here for sure.
Christmas would never be Christmas for me without Jesus. I don’t know if you subscribe to Fox Nation, but I’ve watched several of their Christmas movies so far this season. They do follow similar Hallmark formats, but a few have unabashedly mentioned Jesus. Isn’t that great?
I hope and pray that you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!
I feel privileged to share a special birthday month and some celebrations along with you, Martha, and join you, of course in acknowledging the most important one. Thanks for the heads up re. Fox Nation. Diane and I have watched one of those and plant to add to that number later this evening. I’m grateful for that network, by the way, for lots of reasons, and glad to hear that you appreciate it, too. So, may your Christmas be as blessed for you and your family as it is honoring to the One who sacrificed everything for us.
Beautiful blog and so true!
Merry Christmas to both of you!
Shirley and Jerry
Thank you, Shirley. As always, your response is encouraging and it adds to the joy of the season for us. May God bless you as you celebrate Jesus birth with those you live, and may His grace abound as the approaching new year unfolds.