I was talking to a few food service people the other day and I heard something that both shocked me and made me sad. I was making small talk about the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc.) and what it’s like serving at this time of year. I mentioned that it must be nice; the big tips, the fun parties, people out celebrating and being part of the fun. Now, they did agree the tips and attitude of the patrons is generally better, but there is always that negative angry person and those Scrooge types of people that make their difficult job even harder. They said they see all kinds of people; the fun families just looking to enjoy the night and are kind and generous to them, those classy high-income folks who don’t necessarily flaunt their wealth but greatly reward excellent service, and then there are those who like to push and order people around so they feel more important and appear powerful and are mean, demanding and stingy when it comes to both tips and compliments. As we continued to talk about these and other types of people the conversation moves to where I was both shocked and saddened.
The conversation moved on to those times when they see a table of people praying or they overhear their conversation about church, God, Jesus or other Christian verbiage, or somehow the customers let them know they are church going people. When they learn of theses types of people, they know it’s going to be a time of big demands, low tips, mean comments, and no grace if they make a mistake. Now they said, not all Christian are like this, but as they talked it was enough to have them form a generalization, a profile of how Christians act. I was shocked and saddened.
Why is it we who call ourselves “little Christ,” or one who is like Christ…a Christian, and yet we give off such an opposite image of the grace and love and kindness and mercy of our Lord. Not only that, but we also get this crazy idea that if someone does not believe the way we do, or match our religious politics, or says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, we feel it is license to be mean, unkind, graceless, and not just strike back but go ballistic on them, especially at Christmas which is one of best times of the year to show-off Jesus.
What ever happened to the teaching of Jesus?
Matthew 5:38-39 38″You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Or what about…
Matthew 5:43-44 43″You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
And then there is…
John 13:34-35 34″A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
And did not Jesus model these behaviors for the evidence or fruit of our faith?
Galatians 5:22-23 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
See, we are to be like Jesus, to love like Jesus, and conformed to the image of Jesus as Romans 8:29 says. People should be able to look at us and see that we are at least somewhat like our Lord…especially at Christmas. So for Christ to be seen in Christmas it would not be to get people to say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, but to show our neighbors, friends, businesses we walk into, waiters and waitress that serve us, people we encounter in the mall, and people who we share the roads with to have them see in us Christ-like attitudes, actions, and speech. That’s putting Christ back into Christmas.
This challenged me to be more intentional in loving people like Jesus, to be more generous, and to be kind and gracious to others. What about you? Let’s make this Christmas a time for people to see Christ in us.
Seeking to Keep Christ in Christmas with you,