Lets Take Christ Out of the Manger
Find a pen and paper, because I'm going to give you a pop quiz.
First, I'd like you to grade yourself (on an A-F scale) on how well you completed your normal Christmas traditions last year. Second, grade yourself on how well you, as a parent, communicated the true spiritual message of Christmas to your children.
When our kids were still at home, I did this for us one year and here's how we rated: On Christmas traditions, we earned a B+. Barbara always did a great job of maintaining holiday traditions. On communicating the spiritual meaning, however, we earned a C-. That's hard for the president of FamilyLife to admit, but it's true. The month of December is so busy with the whirlwind of Christmas activities that it's so easy to lose track of what is truly important.
Oh, we may have read the Christmas story from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, but we rarely moved beyond that. We fell into the same trap as many other Christians—we talked about the baby Jesus, but we left Him in the manger.
I think the great need in Christian homes is to take the baby Jesus out of the manger and into real life. We've got to do a better job of teaching our kids who Jesus Christ is and how to walk with Him on a daily basis.
Now, don't get me wrong. The last thing I want to do is diminish the beauty and majesty and significance of the incarnation. But you know what? Our Savior is much more. Who is He? I'll tell you.
- He is Immanuel (Matthew 1:23).
- He is the Door (John 10:9).
- He is the True Vine (John 15:5).
- He is Living Water (John 4:10).
- He is the Light of the world (John 8:12).
- He is the bright Morning Star (Revelation 22:16).
- He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).
- He is the Lamb of God (John 1:29).
- He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11).
- He is the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15).
- He is the Bread of Life (John 6:35).
- He is our Savior (Titus 3:4-7).
In his excellent book, Knowing God, J.I. Packer writes, "There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them." The more we know His character and His nature, the more we will grow in our faith. Let me illustrate by focusing on just two of Christ's names.
Christ is the "Door": "I am the door," Jesus says in John 10:9. ". . .if anyone enters through me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." This verse pictures Christ as the gate by which we gain entrance into eternal life. By entering through that door, and receiving Christ as our Savior, we will live with God in heaven forever. When sharing this verse, you could even take your kids to a door in the house and let them picture Christ as the One who opens the door to eternal life.
Christ is the "True Vine": In John 15:5, Christ says, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing."
This is one of my favorite concepts, and it's something kids can grasp. You could even find a branch that is no longer attached to the stem, and show how it has withered and died because it no longer can draw its source from the plant. Then show a group of fresh grapes to demonstrate what happens when the branch remains attached to the vine.
Since Christ is the True Vine, we should abide in Him by drawing our sustenance from His Spirit and His Word. We need to allow Him to live His life in and through us. . .to love people who don't love us. . .to help us do the right thing when we don't feel like doing it.
I once had the opportunity to interact with some eighth graders in a public school. I asked them, "If you could have any single wish fulfilled, what would that be?" Many of the kids asked for money, for material possessions, or for success in football or basketball. A couple even asked to have great families. But I was impressed with one young man—the only one out of nearly 100—who said, "I'd like to meet God. I'd like to know who God really is."
That's the type of desire I wanted to see in my children. And one of the greatest opportunities I had to help them know Him was at Christmas.
Make this Christmas the beginning of a spiritual reformation in your family. Don't just give presents. Put a true spiritual tone to this Christmas in your family. Seize this moment to truly adore Jesus Christ and make Him the center of your lives and of your home.
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