“The problem with Christianity is always the Christian, never the Christ.” My Pastor drilled this perspective into my head before ordaining me as a prison minister some fifteen years ago. Never is this more apparent than Christmas time in America. I’m not bemoaning the commercialism of the holiday, there’s plenty of horses already pulling that wagon, I’m speaking to the sense of loss the world feels when we join the chorus of all anyone needs is Jesus, without offering ourselves as the connective tissue to the Body of Christ.
Scripture says, “Faith, without works, is dead.” James2:14 and what is the work this Holiday season affords us? Might the migrant family of Joseph and pregnant Mary offer us a clue? The Salvation Army volunteers clang their bells for coins, I presume carolers will grace hospitals halls and homeless shelters will see an upsurge of one time volunteers, but what life changing out reach are we called to do in the ordinary day to day of our routine?
I don’t have a ready made solution or progressive series of suggestions. I do know the Spirit speaks loudest to me when pointing out if I ignore difficult, or socially unenviable people, I ignore God. Maybe one person in one hundred looks like a God given opportunity to share Christ’s Peace, that’s the same math the Shepherd used when He left the 99 to find, well, you and me. When God says, “Let Me introduce you to someone dear to my heart,” we shouldn’t be surprised that we’re surprised at His selection. He who calls the stars by name is well capable of super social networking skills.
There is a vocal Christian at my warehouse that goes out of his way to make small talk with anybody who will listen. It’s not his strong suit. The amount of eye rolls he induces could power a small engine. He appears to be oblivious to his role as unintended entertainer and gossip fodder. His wardrobe does nothing to endear him to his audience and his work ethic just gets him in over the hump of respectable contributor. You can probably guess who’s name I’m likely to draw from the Secret Santa hat. My temptation is to sort’ve befriend him in an effort to contain, even curtail, his enthusiasm. Of course Our Father has other plans.
The fact that he shares his name with the Scripture author I quoted only underscores that my attitude adjustment is perhaps the gift I need to unwrap through out this giving season. I didn’t want to write this article. I didn’t want to face the fact that I am one very problematic Christian. The most difficult thing to change in the entire world is a mind made up. It helps to start from the heart, and lend an ear.