Shouting over the bells


Christmas season has truly begun. I know many stores started putting Christmas decorations out Nov. 1 (or sooner), but the Advent season is just now beginning. These few days after Thanksgiving but before December are a good time to reflect and get ready for the chaos of the next few weeks.

This is the time of year we begin to hear all kinds of arguments around what kind of greeting you are allowed to use, which store to cancel because they didn’t say it right, and which store to frequent because they really put “Christ back in Christmas.” After all, nothing says I’m celebrating the birth of Jesus like feeding the economy spending money.

I often hear people talk about declaring “truth” to the world. While I’m not against truth, I wonder if we have lost the plot in our fervency of shouting louder so everyone can hear us. I understand that the central reason for celebrating Christmas is remembering the birth of Jesus. As a Christian, I can say that I have no problem declaring the truth about Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension. I have given my life to bearing witness to that truth.

The more I read Scripture, the more I feel compelled to share about the truth of God’s love for humanity which God displayed for all to see by becoming one of us. That is the central message of Christmas. But I also know that declaring the truth about something can often be a lot different than helping someone understand and even believe that truth.

I grew up hearing a lot about spiritual warfare and how “the enemy” is out there. I was supposed to “fight the good fight,” which really meant defending the doctrines and beliefs of my tribe of Christianity. At Christmas, we were to make sure our decorations centered on the baby in the manger so that all those outsiders who had co-opted our holiday would see the truth. Hopefully, they would see the truth and get convicted about how terrible they were and come ask us how to become better people.

Amazingly, that never happened. No one ever came up to us at our live nativity scene weeping because they felt convicted about their elf sweater. Instead, we just had to keep shouting louder over the Salvation Army bell-ringers. By Dec. 26, we were just tired and hoarse, and we started thinking about what we should be mad about next year.

Jesus, the apostles, and the writers of the New Testament were far more concerned about Jesus followers acting as ambassadors to the world around us. Our job is not to declare truth in a combative way, but to persuade with peace, grace, gentleness, self-control, patience, and (most of all) love. This was the way of Jesus. This was the way of the early church. This is what Jesus meant when He said that people would know that we were Christians by the way we love … not by the way we yell about truth.

As we begin this Advent season, let’s focus on the hope, the peace, the joy, and the love that form the central message of Christmas. Let’s focus on grace instead of canceling. Let’s make this the best Christmas ever for everyone … even those that don’t see things the way we do.

May your Christmas lights shine brightly with the love of Christ.

Rev. Jason Allison is pastor of spiritual formation at Press Church. For information, go to

Rev. Jason Allison is pastor of spiritual formation at Press Church. For information, go to

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