Countercultural

Look Deeper, See Clearer, Run Harder

Pause. Listen. Remember the Main Thing.

I’ve been forgetting the main thing. While driving home last weekend I was convicted by a thought. If Jesus showed up in my hometown this Christmas, would I notice?

As much as I want to say yes, the answer is no.

Remember The Main Thing

Photo Credit: @sage_solar via Compfight cc

Consumed by Noise

Why wouldn’t I notice baby Jesus today? Because I have plans. I don’t have time to search for a baby or follow a star. I’m just hoping to have enough patience to sit through a Christmas Eve service.

The noise of Christmas consumes us, and Christians often respond by countering the noise. If we can make enough noise, we think, then the world will pay attention to Jesus.

So we write articles and preach sermons and generally make a ruckus in Jesus’ name.

But when noise is countered by noise, it produces more noise.

He Who Has Ears

Jesus doesn’t force us to follow Him. He spoke the truth and left it at that.

“He who has ears, let him hear” is a biblical phrase unique to Jesus. Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile with a Jesus like that. We want God to strike down the bad guys and establish His kingdom now—sound, lights, and everything.

What we don’t want is a quiet Jesus who requires us to stop and listen. The truth is, we want all the benefits of God without any disruption to our  lives.

Matthew 13:13
This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”

I think this perfectly describes the struggle at Christmas. We see without perceiving and hear without understanding the simple message of the Savior of the world.

Selling Jesus

Christianity Today’s managing print editor recently wrote, “It’s like we don’t trust the Incarnation to sell itself.”

We think we need Jesus + production or Jesus + 500 word articles to truly grasp the Christmas message.

Productions and articles have moved me personally. But a “moving” experience should always move us from something to something. In this case, to Jesus.

Instead, we’re often like the crowd in John 6, following Jesus because we want to see Him multiply the bread again instead of realizing He is the Bread of life.

He is the Bread of life.

When we stop, and when we realize every Christmas miracle is meant to help us remember the main thing, Jesus, then we understand Christmas.

Christmas is not about starting small and getting bigger. It’s not about Jesus + every bell and whistle to make Him bigger, better, and louder.

It’s about a multitude of glorious angels pointing to a baby.

It’s about honored Magi abandoning their gifts at the feet of an infant.

It’s about starting big and getting small.

And that’s exactly what Jesus did for us.

2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.

What are some healthy ways we can “start big” and “get small” with the Christmas message? How can we (individually or as families) practice pausing and listening during this Christmas?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

  • Thanks Camden – yes learning to watch and wait on Christ is really hard! One thing I find helpful is just to bathe in some of the lines in our Christmas carols. So many small, innocuous phrases – yet profound and filled with grace. Just one example:
    How silently, how silently,
    The wondrous Gift is given …
    So God imparts to human hearts
    The blessings of His heaven……

    Astonishing!

    • Great thoughts, Chris. Thanks for sharing. I’ve noticed this for myself: I tend to sing Christmas carols and glaze over the words. It’s the same with passages like John 3:16. They’ve become so commonplace they often lose their meaning. But the people (and often the stories behind the songs) are real and true, and it’s worth pondering these words for our lives.

  • Joe Miller

    This is so true. God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” We need to take the time to slow down and listen. I find this really hard, and your article is helpful to nudge me in that direction. Thanks.

    • Thanks for sharing, Joe. It’s a lot easier to talk about slowing down and focusing at Christmas than it is to actually do it. The beauty and challenge of Jesus is that He doesn’t demand our attention. It’s always a quiet invitation to know Him more.