It’s Christmastime, and for most people a lot of preparation goes into making Christmas memorable – shopping lists that steadily keep growing, sending out Christmas cards, decorating our homes, attending parties. It’s easy to get so caught up in the busyness of the Christmas season that we forget why we celebrate it in the first place. If Christmas is Christ’s birthday, in what ways are we celebrating Christ? Jesus didn’t come for us to have a holiday; He came to show us how to live and do life. Are we just celebrating Christmas or are we actually doing Christmas?
When we examine Jesus’ life, we see that Jesus hung out with the outcasts, the socially unacceptable, the forgotten and the lonely. He made it a point to demonstrate love to them in a way that would change their entire outlook on life. He gave, served, and healed. He showed mercy to those who were looked down upon. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He taught that all people are accepted by Him and worthy of salvation.
Saying you’re a Christian is one thing, living it out is another. It’s possible to go to church every Sunday and still miss Jesus. James, Jesus’ half-brother, grew up in the same house as Jesus but his way of thinking was miles away from Jesus’ for the early part of his life. In scripture, it appears James thought Jesus wasn’t thinking clearly and wanted Him to leave their home. It wasn’t until Jesus appeared to James after His resurrection that James began to understand just who Jesus was - the promised Messiah and Son of God. From that point on, James gave himself completely to God and dedicated his life to the early Church. James even identified himself as a servant of Jesus (James 1:1). He didn’t think he was worthy enough to identify himself as Jesus’ brother. James’ life is a perfect example that when you encounter Jesus, it’s impossible to stay the same.
James was straight forward in his teachings and crystal-clear about what it really means to be a Christian. James taught about careful use of the tongue and how true faith is demonstrated by what we do and how we care for others. A lot of people claim to be religious, but that has never been the goal. Religion just serves up a lot of words and has no real action behind it. He taught that pure and genuine religion consists of caring for the needy and refusing to be corrupted by the world (James 1:27). If you’re going to claim to be religious in this pure and genuine way, make sure it translates into the way you live and treat others.
Our conviction as Christians should be that Church isn’t a building, but rather a body of people. It’s not just a Sunday event, or a place for us to clock in and out of, but a way of life. Jesus is our message and His heart is for people. One of the best things we can do for ourselves, not just this Christmas season but every day, is focus on others. When we get wrapped up in our own issues, we forget we’re called to serve others. This season, let’s make the choice to not just celebrate Christmas; let’s do Christmas day in and day out.