Christmas is that bizarre time of the year when people who don’t have anything to do with Jesus suddenly start praising His name. Celebrity singers whose lifestyle and beliefs do not include any room for Jesus have wonderfully sincere sounding songs about the birth of Christ.
I am not going to name who these are, but think about how they are, and the irony becomes clear. Singers who support things opposed to the word of God are calling us to come and worship baby Jesus. Maybe they find the baby less threatening than the grown-up Jesus, who confronted evil and certainly condemned much of what modern culture calls good.
No room in their hearts for Jesus, they relegate him to the back rooms of their lives, setting him up in the stables around back. Maybe someone needs to tell them that Jesus never stayed in the stable for long. That sweet baby in the feeding trough is God in the flesh with a purpose to bring peace and salvation through an intimate relationship with Him.
Jesus is as inconvenient to the world today as he was two thousand years ago. The darkness back then was just as unready and unprepared for the light of the world as we are now. It didn’t work trying to hide him in a stable out back when he was born, and it won’t work now. The testimony of believing outsiders like shepherds may have even been censored and called out as fake news, and the conspiracy of the virgin birth might have gone back to the fields with them. Except they told everybody what they saw. The whole town of Bethlehem knew, and there were no Facebook or Twitter accounts to cancel them.
And then there were those annoying wise men who even told Herod they came to worship the King of Kings. It was pretty hard to silence these powerful foreigners. Then there was that star. Everyone saw that. Of course, this might have been just a temporary news item on page three if Herod didn’t overreact and slaughter all the male babies born around the same time. Talk about late-term abortion. These little ones were nursing and loved one minute and killed the next.
There just was no room for Jesus. He was as big a threat to the dark rulers and influencers of the world then as he is now.
Yet, now as then, we still celebrate his birth. Those of us who know him celebrate the loudest. Or, at least, we should. When wonderfully talented people sing of his praise in Christmas carols, but they know not to whom they sing, I wonder if as they sing the words to O Holy Night, they are more moved than when they sing Jingle Bells. And when they burst out with Joy to the World, do they know why there is joy?
Of course, without Christmas, there would be no Easter. Jesus is the reason for both seasons. You see, that little baby is the great Messiah, the Savior of all mankind. But do we as a culture get this connection? Perhaps it is just safer to be happy at Christmas and mix Jesus and Santa into one big Christmas ornament. Christmas is way less threatening when Jesus remains a baby and when his birth is hidden by the frenzy of gift-giving and receiving, especially by some jolly old elf called Santa.
The retail industry that heavily relies on Christmas sales for its profits has little or no room for Jesus. Just try to find nativity displays or try to purchase one. They are nearly invisible and impossible to find. Go to public schools and watch their Christmas plays, or simply take a drive around your community. Light displays that are magnificent have such ‘traditional’ Christmas characters as Darth Vader, the Minions, and of course the whole Disney gang. Man, that stable must have been crowded. And I guess Luke forgot to mention all these inflatable and lit-up cartoon creations when he wrote the Christmas story in Luke chapter two.
Two thousand years ago, there was no room for Jesus. Today, nothing has changed. There is still no room for Jesus. Except in the hearts of his followers. People who don’t follow the ways of this world are considered outsiders and ignorant. The shepherds had room for Jesus. I guess we’re the modern shepherds.
Make room for Jesus the baby, and it’ll be easier to make room for Jesus the Messiah. After all, they are one and the same.
Andy Becker is a pastor, retired counsellor and former CEO of a Hospice organization. His book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.