Christmas commercialism often takes a warm, sensitive turn. Yes, I know the bottom line is that advertisers are trying to sell me their products. Just the same, their seasonal ads sometimes touch a soft spot in me that consequently raises the bar on my own holiday expectations. Behind much of the seasonal marketing strategy is a spiritual truth that resonates with my faith all the time but especially in such a self-absorbed season as our contemporary Christmas. Many of the most compelling Christmas and New Year's advertising motifs shift my attention to others. In many cases this is a personal lift because I realize that some people are facing hardships more critical than my own. An awareness of others around me may be a way to mend what appears to be a broken Christmas at my house.
Here's a great example. Now, please know I'm not advertising a product, a retail
sales organization, or any commercial enterprise. The advertisement I'm
attaching to my blog this morning is to illustrate the thoughtful message by a
holiday advertiser. It is a year old Publix grocery store ad. You've most likely seen
it. But, click here anyway for a seasonal lift.
The really sad part is that it takes the slick minds of Madison Avenue to imprint a picture of others on the screen in my head. My personal Christian worldview should place others high on my priority list all the time. The is because where other people fit into the schema of my life system is a central theme in Scripture---
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the
Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12, ESV
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 15:12, ESV
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Romans 12:10, ESV
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and
not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build
Romans 15:1-2, ESV
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for
building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do
not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of
redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put
away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:29-32, ESV
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant
than yourselves.Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the
interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4, ESV
Just to mention a few. One passage from the letter of the Apostle Paul to the church at Colossae makes an interesting and profound connection between our relationship with others and the inner peace that should define us, especially in a season with the joyful prospects of Christmas. Take note---
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts,
kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one
has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven
you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds
everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your
hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:12-15, ESV
The traits that serve as our links to others---compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing with one another, and forgiveness are joined in "perfect harmony" when love moderates our relationships. Then, "the peace of Christ" can rule in our hearts because we're not in this thing alone, but are in a body with others. Our low times and dark moments are sometimes the results of being so egocentric that the others dimension of life is downplayed. Oops. We're in a funk. Sorry, kids, it's a broken Christmas.
Are you in a funk right now? Is it because you've factored others out of your formula for a successful holiday. Take a few minutes right now and think about the people in your circle---family, friends, colleagues, classmates, neighbors, the people in the next pew every Sunday, the person in the car beside you. Think about where they are in life and the role you could play in giving them a boost in what could be a broken Christmas for them too. Remember Paul's word to the Thessalonians---
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are
1 Thessalonians 5:11, ESV