We’ve all heard of the American Dream. One of it’s dictionary definitions is ‘a life of personal happiness and material comfort’. Reading these words, I can’t help but feel that the "American Dream" is more of an "American Scheme." What if we have bought into all of its lies? And what if we have made it feel at home during the Christmas season?
I’ve been a Christian for about six years, and none of my family are born-again Christians. For the majority of my life, Christmas has been all about the warm hot chocolate, the presents, the food, the Christmas music, the scented candles…but looking back on the part of my life when I didn’t know Jesus, I can see how blind I was to the fact that none of that stuff matters at all. And sometimes, I’m still blind to the fact that it’s all part of the "American Scheme": more, more, more; me, me, me. When actually, it isn’t about us at all. It never has been, and it never will be.
It’s not about how many presents we receive. It’s not about cooking the best Christmas dinner. It’s not even about time spent with family. It’s about Jesus.
Right now you may be thinking, "I’ve heard this before Alice, the whole true meaning of Christmas thing…" And you’d be right; many of us have heard a lecture or two about the true meaning of Christmas, but how many of us have actually acted on it? How many of us have changed our Christmas routine to make Jesus the center of it all?
Don’t get me wrong I love all the festivities. Christmas is a great time to be with family, show love, and generally have a good time. But when we look at the run up to Christmas, and Christmas itself, how much time do we actually dedicate to the one who really deserves it?
Jesus coming to earth as a baby is singlehandedly the biggest moment in human history. It changed everything. And yet we often brush over that, and sometimes don’t even realize it.
Jesus came to the world as an innocent baby; helpless, blameless, His surroundings anything but fit for a King. God knew that He would have to come into our mess of a world, to stoop to our level, to become completely and utterly vulnerable, in order to save us. From the manger to the Last Supper, Jesus had thoughts of the cross. For His whole life, He knew what He needed to do.
Imagine growing up as a child with that thought; the knowledge that you would have to become a sacrifice for the whole world, so that mankind could be at one with God again. Imagine knowing the pain you would have to endure; the lashings, the incessant mockery, the suffocation of the crucifixion. Imagine knowing that the majority of people wouldn’t even care.
Now imagine yourself in that manger. People are coming into the stable; they are scrambling to grab the gifts that the three kings gave you. Hundreds of people are crashing through the stable, knocking over piles of hay, some running into Mary who had just gone through a long, arduous labor, not stopping to help her back to her feet. No one seems to notice the newborn King. No one seems to notice that He has come for his or her sake. No one seems to notice that despite their ignorance, Jesus still came for them because He still loves them.
“Alice, that’s a ridiculous scene. Of course people wouldn’t do that. No one would act like that around Jesus.”
What about Black Friday? What about the masses of crazy people sprinting into shops, knocking women and children over as they scramble for useless things?
In the words of Clayton Jennings:
“Stand in line during Black Friday and get tossed in the sea of crazy people running down aisles for useless things. How many people have to die shopping by being trampled before we get a handle on the fact that we’ve replaced Jesus with pictures of greed displayed on our mantles? We don’t care about walking in the next guy’s shoes because we have no relationship with the man in the sandals. And don’t tell me to get a handle simply because you can’t handle the fact that the world is going dark and nobody seems to have a candle…or a care…so why care? At the end of the day it’s not fair, right? Wrong. I’ll tell you what’s not fair. The fact that we’ve replaced the birth of a King with petty things, because all that’s pretty really isn’t as pretty as it seems.”
I think we’ve forgotten that Jesus is just as present now as He was when He was a sleeping child in that manger.
Christmas isn’t meant to be perfect; it isn’t meant to be pristine; it isn’t meant to be about the perfect gift or the amount of money spent on our loved ones. Jesus doesn’t want to see your best show at the family Christmas meal. It isn’t about the picture perfect family where everyone is satisfied, but only temporarily, by presents and food and money and greed.
It’s about creeping into a dark, cold, and damp stable; falling at your knees as you see the Son of God sleeping peacefully in the manger, dreaming about His mission to save the world. It’s about having that moment of being utterly speechless as you realize that this child has come for you. It’s about kneeling in the mud, tears pouring down your face, as you realize that this whole time you have been focusing on the wrong things. It’s about putting Him first because you know that He is worth it all.
It’s Christmas. What will you choose?
See Clayton Jenning’s spoken word video here
Alice is 18 and from England. She gave her life to Jesus about 5 years ago, and was baptized in July 2015. She feels that she is called to creative evangelism after receiving many prophecies from various people. She's a keen musician, photographer, writer, and speaker, and she hopes to involve all of these passions when sharing the love of Jesus to the world. She looks forward to moving to a city to attend university, engrossing herself in youth culture and wider communities.