During the Christmas season, we go out of our way to have a good time! We reconnect with family, sing festive songs, and gain weight. Because Jesus is the “reason for the season,” we make an extra effort to involve ourselves with church events or talk about Jesus with others.
Sadly, the season also has a dark underbelly that isn’t always recognized. Socially isolated individuals see the fun others are having and feel more left out than ever. Certain family members go through unbelievable stress as they take on the burdens associated with serving large groups and meeting expectations concerning pricey holiday gifts. Entire families go through cycles of sadness when a member no longer is there.
As believers who struggle each day to “not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), we make a conscientious effort to respond to these concerns differently than the world. First, we give joy for our struggles. When we were baptized into Christ, we didn’t sign up for an exciting holiday party; we voluntarily gave our lives to a “race” and “a good fight” (2 Tim. 4:6). Furthermore, we know that the path to eternal life is through pouring out our lives in a way that serves others and proclaims the gospel. When we are discouraged, we remind ourselves of our savior’s mighty work in pulling us out of the old way of life and moving to the new way of thinking. Third, we strive to include others in our celebrations. We forgive people who have legitimate grievances against us and seek to include even the most frustrating friends and family members. We know this is how Jesus would celebrate the season.
However, these responses aren’t easy, and they can only become reality when we have allowed our minds to be transformed by prayer and a renewal from the Holy Spirit. We’ll have that extra wind of energy to serve others, we’ll see God work through our inadequacies, and we will watch communities come together and, at least for a season, share the transformational message of the gospel.