By Kyle Idleman
When we open the Bible and turn to the first few pages of Luke, we read the story of a manger, shepherds and wise men. I love the way he describes the birth of Jesus by opening with,“the true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” Jesus is the light that shines into the darkness.
Paul also wrote about Jesus coming to earth. He describes Jesus’ birth as an example for our own lives and says if we follow the example, we will reflect His light.
In Philippians, Paul brings us to a place that illustrates an example of serving that we should follow. He says that Jesus, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:6-7)
Jesus is God, He always has been God, but He set aside His own interests, put Himself aside, made Himself nothing, so He could be made in human likeness to put us first. The One who had always had the world at His feet now comes to wash the feet of the world.
And we have been called to reflect that same attitude.
In verses 3-4 of Philippians 2, Paul gives a practical picture of what that looks like, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. But in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
The way we apply Christmas to our own lives is to look at other people as more important than us, to set aside our own interests for the sake of others. Is that how you would describe your life? Is that how you would describe your home over the holidays?
Let’s get practical. What do you do when:
- Someone cuts you off in traffic?
- You discover a coworker is secretly going behind your back at work?
- Your neighbor makes living on your street a nightmare?
- Someone attacks or humiliates you in a post on Facebook?
- Your spouse never has anything encouraging to say?
- You see someone in need, but you don’t know them and aren’t expected to help?
That’s when Christmas becomes real. When it’s someone who never says thank you, someone who gives nothing in return, someone who is unlovable, but you have an opportunity to love them, that’s when you get to live out Christmas.
There’s nothing wrong with putting up trees, making cookies, or exchanging gifts, but none of those are Jesus’ followers living out Christmas. We live out Christmas when we make ourselves nothing, when we take the very nature of a servant, when we fight against our selfishness and choose to make it our ambition to humbly put the interests of others above our own.
So, how will you live out Christmas this Christmas? What opportunities has God put in front of you to follow Jesus’ example?
What could you do today?
Remember, the idea isn’t to generate light, but to reflect light. To me, that’s encouraging. I have a different kind of flashlight. Instead of operating by way of batteries, it’s solar powered. The only way this flashlight can give light is if it first receives light from the sun. If it doesn’t receive light, it has no light to give.
That’s the way we are.
This Christmas, my prayer is that you would put yourself in a place where you can truly receive the light of God into your life. When we receive it, we can give it. In some ways we’re like the moon: We have no natural light of our own. The only hope we have of shining in the darkness is the reflection of the Son. And that is what we’ve been called to do.