As a family tradition, we just watched Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (the cartoon, only!). We’ve watched it every year for as long as I can remember, but this is the first time that I’ve noticed (you’ll never guess!) a parallel to our lives. Sure, it’s fairly obvious that the point of the story is to show that Christmas is not made up of the gifts and food, but I noticed something this time that I don’t know if Dr. Seuss even meant to write!
Please bear with me because this short parallel is not perfect. For example, I’ll be comparing the Grinch to people who don’t know Jesus, and the Who’s to Christians. I’m not saying that all unbelievers are Grinch’s! I think you’ll understand when you read all the way through. It’s just that there are only two groups in this movie: the Who’s, and the Grinch.
So let’s start at the start: what was the problem with the Grinch? First answer: he hated Christmas. But obviously we know that this is not true for all unbelievers, or probably any! No, the core issue with the Grinch was that he didn’t know the meaning of Christmas. And that really is a problem in our culture today. Even though everyone sings Christmas carols and sees nativity scenes in church parking lots, so many people have never taken the time to find out the incredible importance of what Immanuel really is. God with us.
Since the Grinch didn’t know what Christmas was really about, he observed the actions of the Who’s. He determined that Christmas was about presents, food, and singing with friends because that’s how the people celebrated. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I think that’s basically what would happen to someone trying to determine the meaning of Christmas in America: they’d get confused between Santa and Jesus. And, taking lessons from the Grinch, the reason for this is because that’s how we celebrate. A stranger might think that Christmas is all about the presents only because so many of us act as if that were true. Even the Bible reminds us that what we do is a demonstration of what we believe. So, a logical conclusion is that if we act like the holiday is mostly about the things we do, give, get, and eat, chances are that we believe that as well. Not that we don’t believe in the birth of Jesus, we simply don’t view it as the most important part, as often (not always, but often) evidenced by our actions. Actions speak louder than words.
So, think about it: if you wanted to test the authenticity of Christians who celebrate Christmas, taking away the “ribbons, packaging, boxes and bags” would probably be your first strategy, which is exactly what the Grinch did.
And what happened to the Who’s? They woke up on Christmas morning and though all of their decorations, gifts, foods, etc. were gone, they still came out and rejoiced together. They proved by their actions that the meaning of Christmas “isn’t bought from a store. Maybe the meaning of Christmas is just a little bit more.”
I can’t help but think that should America be placed in the story instead of Whoville, our test of the Christian celebration of Christmas wouldn’t fair as well. If there were no gifts, no holiday activities, no Santa, I can’t help but think that far less of the “Christian community” would celebrate Christmas with such enthusiasm. In fact, I’d imagine that many would drop the holiday altogether.
Now, I may sound unusually harsh. Maybe I am. But I’d rather be overly cautious than not cautious enough. It simply seems to me that far too much of CHRISTmas revolves around things completely unrelated to celebrating Christ. Watching the “Grinch” made me look at it a new way. It made me wonder what would happen if we were put to the test of the Grinch. And it made me realize: we are being put to that test.
The Grinch watched the actions of the Who’s. People everywhere, every day watch our actions as well. Especially during this holiday season, we can get stressed or busy and lose patience far too easily. But still, people are watching us. They are watching us to see where our true meaning comes from. When the good, comfortable things are taken away, what is it that we really stand on?
The Grinch was not persuaded about the meaning of Christmas by listening to the songs that the Who’s sang or by have a conversation with them. Instead, his heart was changed when he saw the
actions of the Who’s when they were put to the test.
Do your actions demonstrate your beliefs? Does your celebration of Christmas point back to the meaning and purpose of the celebration? If we don’t show others that meaning, who will? If by watching Christians people do not find Christ, then the problem lies with us.
This Christmas, let’s be aware of Truth. Let’s remember that Jesus really is the reason for the season.
And let’s remember that we are being watched.