I was setting out our nativity scene at home yesterday when the question struck me: is this the right way to treat Jesus? It wasn’t just that our manger set is inaccurate (the Wise Men in our nativity didn’t arrive in Bethlehem for some two years after Christmas, but that’s another story). And I did buy the olive wood set in Bethlehem, so it can claim geographical proximity. It’s that we kept Jesus in a box in the attic for eleven months, then set him on our coffee table for a few weeks before he goes back in storage.
Is this how many of us see our Lord?
When asked if Christmas is primarily a religious holiday, only 39 percent of young adults in America agree. When asked what they’re looking forward to during the holidays, 69 percent of us point to time with family and friends; only 11 percent cite religious reflection and services. We will spend $781 billion on Christmas presents this month. An observer could be forgiven for thinking Christmas is more about us than it is about Christ.
How do we point our culture to the true reason for the season?
The first step, of course, is to set an example we want others to follow. Consider Kevin Durant, one of the best basketball players in the world. Durant is in the news for his return to action Tuesday night after suffering a foot injury that has kept him off the court. When Durant was named the Most Valuable Player in the NBA last year, he responded: “First off, I’d like to thank God for changing my life. It let me realize what life is really all about. Basketball is just a platform in order for me to inspire people and I realize that.”
Durant is a pivotal player, not only for his team but also for his Oklahoma City community. He donated $1 million to the Red Cross last year after a tornado ravaged Moore, Oklahoma and surrounding areas. Profiling him last year, The New York Times said, “Durant has a reputation roughly on par with Gandhi. He seems to be—not just for a scoring champion, but for anyone—almost inhumanly humble.”
Don’t you want what he has?
The angels announced on the first Christmas night, “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Note his three titles. Jesus is our Savior—the only One who can save us from our sin. He is our Christ—our Messiah, the promised deliverer sent from God. He is our Lord—our Master and Monarch. Unfortunately, many of us ask him to forgive our sins and deliver us from our problems more than we ask him to be our King.
Is he all three for you today?