by Dr Tony L Lynn
PLYMOUTH, MI – Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol is a story about the possibility of redemption. In the moving drama, we see the contrast of an isolated, stingy Ebenezer Scrooge against his employee, the loving, hopeful Bob Cratchit. Cratchit’s warmth is infectious invading his family members and the community, whereas Scrooge’s grumpiness makes everyone recoil out of fear of being hurt by the miserable, complaining miser.
Scrooge’s transformation of redemption only occurs after a visit from the ghost of a former business partner, followed by the ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas future, during Scrooge’s restless Christmas Eve at home. Visiting the scenes of his life revealed the importance of relationships, kindness, and generosity to Scrooge, so the next morning on Christmas Day Scrooge sets out displaying the obvious change in his outlook and pursuit in life. People are shocked, but rapidly embrace the newborn, compassionate Scrooge.
In case anyone would miss the point of the source of all things worthwhile, Bob Cratchit’s son, Tiny Tim, though sick and feeble utters the famous words, “God bless us, everyone,” in the closing scene of the story. Author Charles Dickens even repeats the phrase as the closing words of his manuscript. In essence, author Dickens is saying “God bless us, everyone” whether we are rich or poor, feeble or well, small or mighty. God bless us, everyone! Let’s act like the Lord in all our interactions with everyone.
This Christmas Season we have an opportunity to display our “Tiny Tim” outlook on life whether life is perfect or not. We can lead others toward redemption in Christ by celebrating God becoming man so that we might know Him more.
Here are some practical ideas.
1. Mixed Party
Bring the skeptic, non-believing “Scrooges” to a fun, delicious December Christmas party in your house along with some Christ-followers. Mix them, 1 to1. Don’t make the night religious. Just let your Christian friends hang with the unbelievers with whom you share life and let them discover some commonalities. You’ll hear someone say, “My children and your children attend the same school.” Another will say, “I work there too, but in a different department.”
When those who yet don’t know Christ discover that believers-in-Christ live normal lives being employed, taking their kids to sporting events, and have favorite restaurants, they will let their guards down and become friends with your friends. The only time you bring up the “religious” part is when everyone is leaving for home. Cue your church friends to say happily, “See you at church for Christmas Eve service. I can’t wait.” Let your church friends know that they have your permission to invite your unchurched friends, in a personal meaningful way to the big upcoming church service, to even sit with them. It will mean the world to those unfamiliar with church.
After the mixed party, the Scrooges will feel confident that they have more friends at your church. Their fear of attending will be replaced with a feeling of belonging. That feeling of belonging usually moves toward believing in and behaving like Christ.
2. Shame Invite
If you’re fortunate enough to have children or grandchildren in Christmas plays or musicals at your church meeting place shame those “Scrooges” who have put off coming to church with you by saying something like, “Charlie, you keep saying you will come to church with me, but you haven’t. Would you come to hear my daughter Rachel sing? It would mean the world to her just to know that you are there. She babysits your kids, so why don’t you bring the entire family and afterwards we can circle back to my house for some Christmas desserts.” Some people just need to get over the “roof will fall in” if I attend church with you, so feel free to maximize the value of your little ones’ influence over adults who need Christ.
3. Gift Your Story
Pick-up something that your “Scrooge” neighbor, friend, coworker, or family member would enjoy for Christmas. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something they would enjoy. The real gift is the personal letter you will write and put in with the gift card, tool, or baked-good.
You can write starting off with something like this phrase, “I am so grateful for your place in my life and thrilled to give you this gift; but I just wanted to let you know about the greatest gift I ever received.” Then using your own words and your way explain your journey on how you came to discover Christ as your Savior.
If you need an outline:
Share about your life before Christ.
Share about how your life is now that you follow Him.
What you are looking forward to in the future because you are following Christ?
Did you see what I did there? I replaced the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future with those three parts of your personal salvation. The interactions of God and you, in your personal story, is far more helpful than fictional ghosts. By the way, keep the letter to 2-3 pages maximum.
I hope you found one or two of those ideas helpful. I hope even more that you will follow-up and accomplish one of them. I once was a Scrooge. Mom started me in church during the seventies. It was the teenagers who made me feel comfortable at church. It was the men who greeted me by name that made me feel valued . . . so I kept going until one of the messages from the pastor was as clear as could be, I needed to follow Christ!
That gift of salvation is something I wish for the almost ten million people living within the state of Michigan.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Tony L. Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.