I just saw a meme on Facebook that reads,
If you want to keep Christ in Christmas
Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty
welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies
and do unto others as you would have done unto you.
I shared it immediately to my own wall.
This Sunday is known as ‘The Reign of Christ the King’. That phrase alone will get at least an amen from Jesus followers in many churches, and so it should because we recognize and celebrate the reign of Christ. The thing about the phrase is that as we celebrate this Sunday, we recognize that Christ already reigns. Jesus doesn’t need his followers to put him on the throne, he is already there.
We get caught up in the battles just the same. We go to war about whether or not we should say ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Merry Christmas’. I can remember a time not so long ago when I myself went to war, over a public event that was held by my own denomination where the name of Jesus was not mentioned. I still feel fairly torn about it but I also feel at that time, maybe I missed the point. We are offended that prayer is no longer allowed in our schools, and any time something bad in the world happens we are quick to connect it with the missing prayer. We can no longer hold church services outside in public places. Christianity is long gone from the public sector, and many Christians feel threatened. It’s almost as though we think that if we don’t react swiftly and strongly that Christ is in some way going to fall off of his throne.
Let me point again to a fact that should relieve that burden, Jesus Christ reigns, and always will. His reign is not dependent on people.
Christianity is not a weapon to be used, but a way to live. We can see that in the passage that is chosen this year for this Sunday.
In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus is recorded as telling about the separation of the sheep from the goats when the Son of Man comes in his glory. In this passage, Jesus is clear as to who is in and who is out. Sheep win and goats lose. The thing to note about this passage every time is that neither group knew why they fell into the category they did, because their action or inaction is simply part of who they are as people, it is part of how they live their lives.
Those who are counted among the ‘sheep’ have no clue as to what it is that they have done. They might think that they were never really big into evangelism, they never stood in a picket line or signed a petition and they wonder what it is that they did for the kingdom. They have simply lived their lives in a way that cares for other people above themselves. Not because they are trying to earn brownie points, or get the best seat in heaven but simply because it’s the right thing to do.
While the goats might wonder how it was that they were not invested in the kingdom. They were the ones maybe, who fought to keep Jesus in school, and to say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays. Perhaps those are valid things to pursue, but maybe in getting caught up in all of that is what causes those who find themselves labelled the goats to miss the real need of their neighbour.
If I sit down and think about it, I think I often fall into the goat category. I’m often fighting for a cause instead of just living out the life of faith, allowing love and generosity to be so a part of me that I can do nothing else but to share it with others without even realizing I am doing it. So this week as I contemplate the reign of Christ and the coming advent season my prayer needs to be like this verse from the song Hosanna:
Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity
Let’s really keep Christ in Christmas, shall we?