Frankincense, Myrrh and Tinkerbell Jammies, The Wisdom Of Offering Gifts To The King

By: Tia Johnson 0 Comments   12/19/2011

A Gallup Poll released last summer revealed that 91 percent of Americans believe in a higher power, as reported by the Heritage network.

The same percentage of Americans celebrate Christmas, according to Lifeway Research. This includes 97 percent of Christians, 89 percent of agnostics (or "no preference" responses), 55 percent of atheists, and 62 percent of those claiming adherence to other religions.

"There is no question that Americans celebrate the Christmas holiday..." said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. "But a closer look at how they celebrate reveals that it typically revolves around family and that Christ-centered elements are not as common. For many in our culture, the season is disconnected from the reason."

Some of LifeWay's statistics regarding Christmas are encouraging. While 1/3 of households encourage belief in Santa Claus, 58 percent of Americans encourage belief in Jesus Christ as savior. In fact, 62 percent strongly agree with this statement: "I believe Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season."

Regardless of debates about the date of Jesus' birth and the purpose of Christmas, it's remarkable that a majority of Americans still attribute the holiday to the Biblical account of Jesus' birth.

Yet there's much to be learned.

This same survey, reported on by PRWeb, said that only 28 percent of American households read or tell the Christmas story from the Bible. 

"Acknowledging the source of Christmas is widespread, but telling the story is not. Christians should do both and share that with others," said Stetzer.

In fact, 67 percent of Americans admit that most of what they enjoy at Christmastime has nothing to do with Jesus' birth. For example, Christians are more likely than agnostics and atheists to pop in a fictional "Christmas" movie to celebrate the holiday. And, the activity reported to be the most common among Americans during Christmastime is gift-giving. Eighty-nine percent of Americans enjoy this activity, while only half of households attend a special Christmas church service.

Actually, 81 percent said the most important part of the holiday was family tradition.

"Americans give Jesus a head nod at Christmas but spend most of the season pleasing their eyes, ears and taste buds with decorations, music and meals," said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research.

While many Americans and even church-goers apply the stamp of Jesus or Christmas to their badge, they might not know nor be committed to what that really means.

In Luke 14:33 Jesus says, "whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple." This is not the message displayed in the Christmas advertisements. How can it be possible to forsake all, and what does that look like during the Christmas season?

My daughter gave an illustration a year ago when she was nearly 3 years old. She owned a pair of Tinkerbell jammies which she coddled and treasured as if they were a favorite blanket. At this time she also liked acting out the Christmas story. One day, she told me she had put baby Jesus to sleep. "Come see?" she asked. Sure, and what a sight to behold it was. She had her best doll laying in a cradle with all her other animals around: Winnie the Pooh, Ernie, stuffed dogs, monkeys and dolls. In her "manger" cradle, draped over baby Jesus, were her Tinkerbell jammies. She chose not to sleep with them that night. They belonged with Jesus.

When Jesus says that we must forsake all to be His disciple, it means that we are willing to lay it- and leave it- at His feet. A majority of Americans are looking at the baby Jesus this Christmas, their arms filled with bundles and packages representing all sorts of things held tightly: hobbies, worry, finances, possessions, relationships... all precariously balanced by fragile arms, as if these things had more value than the God they profess in the manger.

To forsake all means that when Jesus calls you, nothing prevents you. He has given us many good gifts here on Earth, and we can glorify God fully while enjoying those gifts. But make sure your grasp is tighter around the cross than anything else, so that if they conflict, the choice is easy.

Wealth, vocation and home can easily take priority over the cross. Yet interestingly, the Christmas story offers examples of each being forsaken in the midst of the newborn King. The shepherds forsook their vocation to find the babe. The wisemen left wealth at His feet. And Mary and Joseph were far from home when He was born.

We may not all have Tinkerbell jammies to lay in the manger, but we may be clenching something else very precious, preventing us from bowing to the babe.

May this Christmas be the year to forsake all and with abandon glorify Christ, thus spreading the real joy of Christmas through America.

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