When Christmas Has Nothing to Do with You

This season isn’t about you, is it?

What do you have to do with Jesus? Nothing, really.

Most days you don’t stop even once to consider what Jesus would do or what He thinks of your life. You’re not against Him or angry with Him. You’re not consciously running from Him. He’s just not on your radar and you don’t imagine you’re on His.

You’re a good person. You’re relatively happy. You have people you love and work you enjoy. You don’t have everything, but you have enough.

You’ve never really felt the need for religion. You think John Lennon had it right when he imagined a world without it. From where you stand, religious fanaticism is the source for fighting, division, and hurt feelings.

Frankly, you don’t need the guilt and you’d never want to inflict it on another person. Live and let live as far as you’re concerned.

You like Christmas but you don’t get all crazy about it. Mostly it’s for kids.

You’d be just as happy to skip the big family gathering with your sister wearing her “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” light up pin and her kids handing you another “faith-based” movie as a gift.

Just makes you feel more like an outsider, a Yuletide voyeur.

You don’t begrudge them the comfort they find from faith, but you’re just as likely to find peace walking the dog alone under the stars as popping in that Kevin Sorbo flick.

That’s where you feel spiritual. In the dark, alone with your Labrador, under a starry sky. It’s here that the veil between the worlds feels thin. Staring at Orion, you can almost believe there’s more to life than what we see.

It’s you I think about when I read the book of Matthew in the Bible. I wonder if you can answer the questions that nag at me about the first Christmas?

Like, what would possess astrologers from Persia to think Jesus had anything to do with them?

They weren’t Jewish. They probably had perfectly fine lives. Enough wealth to afford pricey baby gifts. And the confidence and clout required to appear before kings without qualms.

They’d studied the skies and something about a particular star stirred a desire in them to seek out the newborn Son of God. In fact, they worshiped Him. Total outsiders to the whole nativity scene.

And what possessed the shepherds to abandon their flocks for a peek at a newborn?

Again, it was a celestial awakening, angels that appeared as they stared at the night sky. I wonder if they noticed the natal star? Surely, they tracked the constellations to pass the time in the long watchful nights.

But, what hope would shepherds attribute to an infant messiah? And why would they imagine He had anything to do with them? Talk about religious outsiders. Shouldn’t angels appear to rabbis or Pharisees or priests? Why would shepherds leave their charges and risk the wrath of their families or employers to kneel manger-side?

It didn’t stop there.

As the baby grew, fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, and centurions found themselves drawn to this man who had nothing to do with them.

They left their lives. They risked losing everything. One day, their lives were perfectly fine, certainly not in need of saving. The next, these same lives paled beside the one offered them by Jesus.

Some eventually lost their own lives trying to tell others what they’d seen following Him. Outsiders, all, who found some reason to believe that Jesus, a Jewish miracle-performing carpenter king, had something to do with them after all.

At the end of the day, you don’t have to feel any special connection to Christmas. You don’t need a tree, or a church service and you don’t need to know all the words to Silent Night.

Just look up at the stars.

A poet shepherd who one day grew up to be a king, once wrote these words, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4 ESV

Under the stars, we sense how small we are in the universe. In the dead of night, there is a quietness that makes a space for us to hear. The veil grows thin between the world we see and the unseen reality that is also present.

And here, we can begin to believe that Jesus has an interest in us, even us outsiders who never gave Him a thought until now. And all we need to do is get to Him to understand what we have to do with Jesus.

And it’s not about religion, rules, traditions, or what our life has always been about right up until this moment.

It’s about the sense that if we just get to Jesus, it won’t matter ever again that we’re small in the universe.

Another biblical poet wrote this, “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.” Psalm 147:4

If He knows the names of all the stars, He knows yours, too.

That’s Christmas, dear reader. And it has everything to do with you.

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    The Conversation

  1. Anonymous says:

    As always, beautifully written

  2. Arlene Martell says:

    This is such a WOW piece. I’m going to ask a friend to translate it into Chinese and post it on wechat, unless I hear from you not to. I think it will appear to present and former Chinese college students-the ones I’ve been ministering to for many years! Beautiful!

  3. Elizabeth White says:

    heart this!

  4. Jo-Ann (formerly of Little Rhody!) says:

    Truly a Spiritual Jolt…thanks, Lori!!