This Christmas I will celebrate what has been done for me, and for my family. For at least a brief portion of time I will cease to be concerned about the rest of the world, about my neighbor in need, and about the problems others face, and I am just going to focus on what has been done for us. I know this flies in the face of the new missional Christmas where we all try to give as much money to feeding people as we do giving presents to each other, and to many people the Miklovic selfish Christmas seems to be the very antithesis to what Christmas should be, but I disagree.
I was born in sin, and have sinned since my earliest of days, so has my wife, and my two young children. We have known right, and chosen wrong. We have had God’s law revealed to us, and chosen disobedience to it. The Miklovics without any outside intervention are a pretty hopeless bunch. I could take Christmas and turn it into a time to pour blessing upon the world and make it a time of monastic self denial, but I am not going to. Christmas is about the redemption of the Miklovic family by our Lord who saw it fit to be born in human flesh in a manger. Christmas, is all about undoing that curse that the Miklovics were born into because of original sin in Adam. Christmas, the celebration of the advent of Christ was for the Miklovics and we are going to view it in that light, as something done FOR US. You say yes, but was it not for the rest of the world too? Of course it was, and I encourage you and the rest of the world to celebrate Christmas in the same manner, as Christ coming FOR YOU. Yes, we will still give our traditional gift to our kids that they are required to use to serve someone else, yes we will still lead youth on food drives, and give to those in need, because that is a part of who we are... but that is not, nor will it be the focus of our Christmas.
Let me give a little more explanation. During the mega-church or church growth movement we had a horrible streak of selfishness driving evangelicalism. Everything in churches was to be carefully crafted to make congregants happy with the style, and comforts of modern worship. Of course most of us are now ready to admit that this consumeristic mentality is the wrong way to go, and that people should not be drawn to the church simply to be given coffee, tips for life, and good music. Yet how have we responded to the consumerist failure? We have turned around and created the missional movement to curb our self absorbed appetite. We have taken the growth model which tells vistors “we are all about you, be comfortable enjoy yourselves” and replaced it with the total opposite “it is not about you, get out of your ‘comfort zone’ and join us in mission.” The growth movement catered to the consumer, and the missional movement caters to the wannabe superhero. Both movements at their heart are consumeristic trying to create what people want to consume. Neither movement offers comfort with regard to our own fallenness. The growth movement was to capture those who remember nothing but dead fundamentalism and wanted something more joyful. The missional movement is for those who grew annoyed with the growth movement and wanted their life to mean something and to make a difference. In either case, both movements addressed and are addressing the desires of the consumer of the day. (This is why people are so unfortunately infatuated with Barna polls.) The problem is that in reaction to the growth movement, the missional movement has thrown out any notion whatsoever that Christ has done a great work FOR YOU. It quickly forces you to reach out to others while never receiving anything yourself. The growth mentality was all for you, yet it did not placard the Christ which died for you and the implications of that, it instead structured the church experience ‘for you’ with all the amenities of your local shopping mall. The ‘for you’ of the growth movement is not the ‘for you’ of the gospel, yet in the rejection of the growth movement, the actual Gospel ‘for you’ has been placed on the back shelf by the missional movement. Essentially in an effort to get out of one ditch we have fallen into the ditch on the other side of the road.
That is why my family, which is a mission minded family, will see Christmas not as a call to mission, but a call to receive with gratitude once again that Christ was incarnate FOR US. This is not selfish, this is receiving and appreciating a gift that was given to us. Not in the form of good coffee and a Christmas ham, but as Christ incarnate FOR US. Enjoy the gift and the giver, certainly you will go out on mission, and certainly you will serve others and certainly your living faith will propel you into works, but take time to see that the gift is FOR YOU.