In case you are living in an isolated bomb shelter 100 miles under the earth without any form of communication the last few days, I am going to take on the role of Captain Obvious and point out that Christmas is tomorrow. However, the reason for celebrating Christmas doesn’t so obvious. Suppose you are an alien visiting earth with the intention of writing back to your home planet about our culture, you would be able to observe this madness we call Christmas and have a very good chance of not even realizing what we consider the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas would appear to be about shopping, about giving and getting presents, about getting together with family, about being stressed out and traveling all over the country, about overeating, about festive lights and trees decorated with shiny balls and other assorted things. But the true reason of Christmas is not among the obvious.
Like the way American culture sometimes misses on the true meaning of Christmas, we also have the tendency to miss and ignore one of the key traits that Jesus modeled for us to follow.
If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care - then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death - and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth - even those long ago dead and buried - will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, 11 and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father (Philippians 2:1-11 MSG).One trait made the first Christmas possible, Jesus’ humility. I like to use illustrations from television shows, novels, and movies in my articles. When it came to humility, I struggled trying to find an illustrations in our culture of entertainment. Humility is not a trait that our culture exalts. We exalt individualism, vengeance, materialism, and independence. Just like our culture does with the meaning of Christmas, it does a good job of hiding humility.
Although there is Spider-Man. In Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker struggles with being humble. He gave up his role as Spider-Man, threw his costume into the trash, and walked away thinking that he would never look back. But then came the villains. They forced him to either decide to let people suffer or to give up his plans for a normal life and return to the life of the hero. He had to put aside his own dreams of what he wanted out of life and do what was intended for him to do. He wanted to be a good college student, hold down a steady job, and win back the love of his life. There's nothing wrong with any of those goals; however, they were not what he was intended to do.
Spider-Man is an example of humility, putting aside your selfish dreams and aspirations - no matter how noble they might be – for the benefit of those around you, even when doing what benefits those around you isn’t particularly for your personal best interests. Spider-Man shows us genuine humility.
Yet Spider-Man is not real. It’s up to you and me to turn the fictionalized humility of Spider-Man or the genuine Christmas story showing the great humility of Christ into a living reality to those around us. We need to put our own dreams and aspirations aside, notice the needs of those around us, and act to meet those needs.
C.S. Lewis described humility in his book Miracles:
In the Christian story God descends to re-ascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity...down to the very roots and sea-bed of the Nature He has created.
But He goes down to come up again and bring the ruined world up with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulder…
In this descent and re-ascent everyone will recognise a familiar pattern: a thing written all over the world. It is the pattern of all vegetable life. It must belittle itself into something hard, small and deathlike, it must fall into the ground: thence the new life re-ascends….
So it is also in our moral and emotional life. The first innocent and spontaneous desires have to submit to the deathlike process of control or total denial: but from that there is a re-ascent to fully formed character in which the strength of the original material all operates but in a new way. Death and Rebirth--go down to go up--it is a key principle. Through this bottleneck, this belittlement, the highroad nearly always lies"Humility is a tough concept to grasp. Examples of it are not exalted in our culture. It's even tougher to live out. But the perfect example of humility was shown to us on Christmas morning over 2000 years ago. God, who has all power and knowledge, emptied himself of those things and took on the flesh, skin and bones of people like you and me. He humbled himself and put his security in the arms of Joseph and Mary. He lowered himself to our level in order to exalt us to His. That is the beauty of Christmas.
Jesus came so that people like you and me can become what we were intended to be. We can give up our selfish and fruitless dreams and aspirations, replacing them with the humility that Christ began to model on that Christmas Day thousands of years ago. If we want to make the Christmas story come out of hiding in our society, then we need to take the first steps as followers of Jesus and swaddle ourselves in His humility. We cannot grasp hold of what God intends for us and those around us if we continue to hang on to our own goals and desires.
So let us, those who claim to follow Jesus, not fight for the world to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas in the ways that it is currently being fought. Let us not argue in courts for or against certain nativity scenes. The world celebrating the true meaning of Christmas will be a natural byproduct of the people around us seeing and deciding to follow Jesus. Instead, let us fight against our own selfishness and pride so that the world may actually see Jesus' love and humble example in the lives of those who claim to follow Him. Not just at Christmas, but during every day of the year. It's the least we can do in response to the great love of God and His mindshattering act of humility that we celebrate during this season.
At Christmas time, the story of Jesus should cause us to face a moment similar to that of Spider-Man. We can look around us and see that this world desperately needs Jesus. And the story of our Lord and Messiah in a manger over 2,000 years ago should tweak our hearts to realizing that we need to humble ourselves in whatever way necessary. We need to put aside our own dreams of what we want out of life and do what God calls us to do. This world needs us to live out the humbling nature of the Christmas story every day of the year.