By Dennis Rainey
On a December day I stopped by my bank to make a deposit. I used the bank drive-through, and the teller behind the thick glass window was a young man, perhaps in his late 20s or early 30s. A pleasant young man.
There were no customers in line behind me, so after he helped me with my deposit I thanked him for his work and said, “Merry Christmas. And don’t forget to celebrate the One who made Christmas famous!”
I watched his face carefully as I paused, then asked, “Do you know who made Christmas famous?”
He didn’t flinch … his answer was instant and confident as he responded, “Santa!”
Over the past decade I’ve probably asked that question to a couple hundred people. This was the first time someone credited the jolly old man in the red suit and white beard for the hijacking a holy holiday. Although Santa is famous, what he offers is trivial compared the first advent of the King of Kings and Creator of billions of galaxies in the universe.
I did not want to make fun of the young man or put him down, so I gently said, “That’s an interesting answer … Santa is in second place, but he’s a long way from the One in first place.” I paused for a second and said, “Wanna try again and maybe ask one of your co-workers?”
I watched as the young man looked to his left where another teller was seated and asked her the same question. The young lady smiled and didn’t hesitate. I could see her lips quietly pronouncing the answer: “JESUS.”
He then turned back to me and offered his second response with a hint of doubt, “Jesus?”
I affirmed his answer then added, “… and I just want to encourage you to make much of Jesus this Christmas season. Merry Christmas!”
Reflections on the first coming of Santa and Jesus
As I reflected on this encounter, some thoughts come to mind.
Santa receives a lot of media attention every Christmas. Parents bring their kids to perch on his lap and whisper what they want him to bring them for Christmas.
But whose promises really deliver? Those from Santa? Or Jesus?
Who has the authority to speak into the lives of our children and grandchildren when they go through a crisis? Answer: No comparison.
Whose life is a model of how we are to live? Santa is grossly overweight and only comes to our houses once a year! Jesus lived the perfect life, defeated death, and offers to come and live in us every day.
Whose teachings have been used to transform lives, families, and nations? Santa didn’t even write the famous poem, “The Night Before Christmas.” The book that Jesus authored, the Bible, is the bestseller of all human history.
And who defeated death? And offers us eternal life? Jesus rose from the grave and He is alive right now. And He’s promised to come back.
The greatest gift
And here’s another thought: Christmas is about gift giving. Have you ever wondered why we practice this tradition of giving gifts?
The familiar passage in the Gospel of John spells out the greatest gift ever given in the history of all creation:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Christmas, for those who have never placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, should first be focused on receiving the greatest gift ever given, God's Son. For those who have trusted Christ, Christmas should celebrate Jesus. He came to pay the price for our sins and redeem us from hell. He offers us a relationship with God here and now (John 17:3). And Jesus gives us the promise of being with Him in heaven for eternity (John 14:1-3).
Have you believed in Him? Truly trusted Jesus as your Savior, the One who died for your sins so you will not perish?
Have you surrendered your life to Him? Why not place your faith in Him right now?
Are you following Him?
And are you proclaiming Jesus’ love and forgiveness to others?
People need to know
I’m reminded of two questions that were asked of me as a young man:
#1: “What’s the greatest thing that has ever happened to you?”
I answered, “Receiving Christ and God’s forgiveness of my sins and His promise of eternal life.”
#2: “Then what’s the greatest thing you can do for others?”
Answer: “Introduce Christ, and His claims about Himself, to others.”
We should tell others about our faith throughout the year, but there are two major holidays that demand a heightened burden for making Christ known: Christmas and Easter. Our children, grandchildren, extended family members, neighbors, and those whom God puts in our paths ... all need to know of God’s love and forgiveness that is found in Jesus Christ.
People have a soul and need to know where they will spend eternity.
Don’t miss the opportunity Christmas gives you to share Christ with your family and the people around you … and give them an opportunity to place their faith in Jesus for forgiveness of their sins.
Merry Christmas! And don’t forget to celebrate the One who made Christmas famous!
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5
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