The spirit of Christmas is a spirit of mission. This post is not an attack on the commercialization of Christmas or materialism; I am assuming that most of you are able to navigate those waters and discern, to some degree or another, what Christmas is really about. That is my central concern here. I think we can all agree that for followers of Christ Christmas is about Jesus but I think we all operate on a continuum of what this actually means.

With that said I want to present a brief argument and then make application of my conclusion. I am convinced that the story of Christmas is not really the story of Christmas. Christmas is not fundamentally about Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem and giving birth in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. The story of Christmas reads something more like Philippians 2:6-11.

[Jesus Christ] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Christmas is about the Son of God humbling himself and becoming nothing, a wanderer with no place to lay His head. I think this is lost on us partially because of our conception of babies. For most people babies are cute and remind us of “innocence.”  New parents may remember that lengthy labor or sleepless nights while others may remember that annoying kid in the last restaurant they visited. For the most part, however, we think in terms of ourselves, never in terms of the child. We cannot empathize with the inconsolable child who is crying because of a belly ache he cannot communicate or understand. Or the shock of the freezing air compared to the comfort of the womb. Yet, the sovereign self-sustaining Son of God humbled Himself and became a helpless child. He felt the shock of the cold night air and needed to be wrapped in swaddling cloths. He felt hunger and the full effects of the curse and had to be fed and consoled. The eternally self-sustaining was now wholly dependent. The Word of God that spoke the universe in to being was reduced to cries, screams, and unintelligible babble. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

But what does this have to do with mission?

If you look back in that Philippians passage it becomes clear that while the passage is descriptive of Christ it is also prescriptive in that Paul charges us that the attitude of Christ should be our attitude. Throughout the New Testament we see the idea of another incarnation. The incarnation of Jesus Christ through His church, see here for a great explanation of this, while God ultimately revealed Himself in Jesus Christ He continues to make Himself known and continue His redemptive mission through the physical presence and proclamation of His church. That is why the spirit of Christmas is a spirit of mission.