WILL THE REAL SANTA PLEASE STAND UP
Be Like Santa
That’s right you heard me correctly, I said be like Santa. However, I am not referring to the Santa who lives in the North Pole and over indulges in milk and cookies. I’m talking about Saint Nicholas, the man whom the myth of Santa Claus originated from. You see Saint Nicholas was a real man who lived from 270-330 A.D. He was attributed to many miracles – not the least of these being raising some people from the dead. In my books, that beats having a team of flying reindeer hands down. This Nicholas guy was most known for his random and anonymous gifts to the poor. He stashed money in people’s shoes at night and would throw purses of money through windows or down chimneys so that a poor man could pay for his daughters to get married. Now that is the kinda Santa I can dig. But instead of following his lead, we have turned Christmas into the rich giving to the rich. Not quite what old Saint Nick would have had in mind.
WHO’S BIRTHDAY IS IT ANYWAY?
While we are on the topic of gift giving, have you ever stopped to think that Jesus’ birthday is the only birthday we celebrate by buying a gift for everyone but the one whose birthday we are celebrating? I mean, imagine it’s your birthday party and everyone gets each other gifts while you get zilch. Wouldn’t that be weird. Yet every Christmas that’s exactly what we do. I mean, how much bath salt does your mom really need?! Now you may be thinking – yeah – but how can we give Jesus a gift? Well I am glad you asked.
Jesus tells us how in Matthew 25:34-40. He says that whenever we feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, invite in a stranger, clothe the naked, look after the sick, or visit those in prison it’s like we did it for him. So if you want to give Jesus a gift for his birthday why not try getting involved in something that will accomplish one of these things. Why not use the Christmas gift money to feed the hungry or bring clean drinking water to those who need it. Check out Advent Conspiracy or Buy Nothing Christmas for help. They have some great ideas on simplifying Christmas and giving Christ a gift. But be as creative as you want, after all God is a God of creativity (just look at the world around us!)
But be prepared for some backlash if you decide not to do the gift thing. Some may be upset they didn’t get a gift or they may feel guilty that they themselves are buying gifts. One way you can deal with this is by giving to a cause in somebody’s name. For example you could buy a goat for a family in Africa in honor of your loved one. Check out The Salvation Army’s Gifts of Hope program.
LIVING SIMPLY YEAR ROUND
But really living a simple life should extend beyond Christmas. We can learn to live simply throughout the year in order to help those in need, but this is probably going to take a change of mindset on your part. Check this out.
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. ~ Romans 12:2 Message
You see, every day we are programmed by the media to consume and buy every latest thing that comes out. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you got a new phone, mp3 player or computer? In order to live simply we need God to change the way we think. We need God to teach us how to be content with what we have. Contentment isn’t based on what we have, it’s based on who we have. Having Christ is the only thing that truly satisfies, but we are human and want to fit in. Most of us have bought into society’s system and think we need the latest ipod touch or the latest version of rock band, but I believe there has to be more to life then just collecting a bunch of stuff.
MEANT TO LIVE FOR SO MUCH MORE
God envisioned a little more for his people than this.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. ~ Philippians 2:3-4 New Living Translation
You see, God didn’t intend for us to live out a life that serves only our interests and is based on trying to impress others with the stuff we have. He envisioned his people would look out for each other and would care about the poor and those who are hurting. So living simply is going to cost you something – maybe everything – but in return you get freedom. Not a bad trade of eh? It is very freeing to not feel the need to keep up with trends. And it is a joy to hear the difference you are making in the lives of others by living simply and giving extravagantly. When is the last time you were filled with true joy? God’s joy? I have over 60 African orphans who consider me family because I’m able to live simply so they can simply live. It’s pretty cool to know that I have family on another continent. I don’t say that to make myself look special, I say it to let you know that a normal everyday person like me and you can make a difference if they are willing to live simply and give extravagantly. So go ahead, give it a try. Live simply this Christmas but I warn you, this Christmas may turn into a lifetime.
Advent Calendar – Give & help others with this calendar
(to download: right click & select ‘save as’ or ‘save link as’)
Irresistible Revolution – by Shane Claiborne
:: by Ryan Beer of Campbell River, BC
I am a youth pastor living in Campbell River, BC with my wife Amanda and son Keenan. I am passionate about connecting young people with the living God.