Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life. Philippians 2:5 and 15
Brother Gearl asked us Sunday, “What’s the message you send at Christmas?”
Our sphere of influence is greater at Christmas time than at any other time of year. Children’s school parties, office parties, gatherings with friends, shopping, dining out, traveling through airports and fellowshipping with family all give us opportunities to interact with people, to be salt and light, to share the message from the manger.
We have opportunities to “have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” We have to fight heavy traffic, find a parking place at the mall, plow through piles of clothes and shelves of appliances and toys and computer stuff, and stand in line at store registers. Hundreds of people from the world elbow us for position in line and grab at sweaters and fuss about rude clerks and lousy waiters.
Does that mean we pull out our Bibles on the escalator and start witnessing to folks around us? No.
I love the words of this hymn. “Silent night. Holy night. All is calm.
All is bright.” Christ didn’t come to us riding in on a white steed with legions of supporters shouting his name. He came in silence, in calm, in peace. That was Brother Gearl’s message Sunday: beneath all the glitz and glitter and materialism in this season is the quiet, calm spirit of humility, the recognition of authority and the practice of obedience–the true message from the manger.
Just before the passage for today Paul tells the Philippians, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” vs. 3-4.
When we have the right relationship with Jesus, and when He is living in us through us and as us when we interact with the world, that relationship reveals itself to others and our humility shows. As Brother Gearl said, “It’s what people see inside of us.” And when they see Christ in us, we send the message of the manger.
We also send the message of the manger to people around us when we recognize Christ’s authority in our lives. When we confess Christ as our Supreme authority and believe that, “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father,” we understand His authority, not only in our own lives but in the lives of everyone for all times. As Brother Gearl said, “Understanding our confession of Jesus (understanding the impact of this verse) is the key to understanding the glory of Christmas and to sharing the spirit of Christmas with those around us.
The third component of the message from the manger Brother Gearl taught us Sunday was the importance of obedience. Joseph and Mary were responsible for carrying forward the message of obedience. Their circumstances certainly were not typical for a betrothed couple in that day. In fact, their circumstances threatened their lives, but they were committed to doing exactly what the Angel of the Lord told them to do.
And so it is with us. Our conduct, as Brother Gearl said reveals something about who we are. Our relationship to Christ is expressed most visibly in our conduct, our character and our conscience. Many of us face clear choices every day between obedience and disobedience.
Choices those around us will witness. When we choose obedience we send Joseph and Mary’s message of the manger to all who will be impacted by our choices.
Everyone reading this will have opportunities to send a message to more people than at any other time of year.
Will it be a message of materialism? Or will it be the message from the manger-to be an example of humility, to recognize our True Authority in Christ and to choose obedience?