It’s better to receive than to give…..
My favorite Christmas special is the Charlie Brown Christmas special. I really can’t think of a more perfect Christmas cartoon. First, you have the Peanut characters, which are a part of the best comic strip ever. You have Charlie Brown trying to figure out the meaning of Christmas. Linus’ speech always brings to tear to my eyes.
Still, I can’t help but wonder about Charlie Brown’s crusade. You get the sense from him that he feels he is a bit more “righteous” than everyone else. He thinks that he is superior to his dog and his friends because he wants to find the “true meaning” of Christmas.
This is why Linus’ speech is so brilliant. Linus doesn’t rebuke his friends for their celebrating of Christmas nor does he rebuke Charlie Brown for his questions. Instead, he tells the simple story of God’s wildly extravegent gift of His only Son, born in a manger. God gave wildly, truly and magnificently. As he tells this story, essentially he is redefining Charlie Brown’s legalism and his friends rampant materialism. Linus tell us celebrate, by all means, but celebrate with gratitude and grace.
I have many friends who have returned gifts from their parents. When I ask why, they always tell me, “Oh, it’s too expensive and doesn’t fit with the simple part of our lifestyle. We want to teach out kids that Christmas is about Jesus and simple living. We don’t want to consume.”
I have often wondered what their parents think when they come to the house and don’t see the gift they gave in love.
It makes me realize how even good intentions lead to a wrong view about Christmas. I’m not saying we should encourage rampant materialism or unrestrained consumption. What I am saying is that we learn the gift of receiving. We need to learn to celebrate a little more, especially in these troubling times. Too often, we let our scruples take over grace towards other people. There are many times in my own life where I have hurt people because of my own blatant self righteousness when it comes to gifts.
In those times, I have to remind myself how wildly unrestrained God was when he gave me His Son. God never hold back from giving. I also know how difficult is for me to accept that gift. I try to negotiate it. I try to make palatable to my pride. Then I remember, it’s not possible. I’ll never deserve such a gift. It’s been freely given. All I have to do is accept it.I need to learn to celebrate with food, gifts and family to express my gratitude towards God for His unending love.
So, this Christmas, I challenge everyone to be gracious and accept the gifts people give to you. Don’t be a self righteous kill joy by lecturing people about how their money could have been spent instead of spending it on your sorry behind. Get over yourself. If you want to give of yourself and things at Christmas, then please, do so, I think its great. Just remember what Jesus said about giving in secret.
Accept the gifts. Learn to receive from others. Don’t be smug and love the smell….well, if you watch South Park, you get the idea…