Congress divided. A President who may or may not be popular, depending on who you ask. Incomprehensible mass shootings. Syrian refugees. How’s a Christian to respond? Police brutality, gay marriage, ISIS — how do we Christians live our lives in light of political turmoil, a world on the brink of war and continual cultural division?
Max Lucado would say, “Celebrate Christmas and be at peace.”
Wait, what? How is that possible? Has this guy even looked around at what’s happening in the world? Doesn’t he realize that parents might have already started Christmas shopping for children they are now burying?
“If anybody on the planet has a reason to be at peace, it’s a genuine Christ follower,” Lucado declares. “If your hope is in the oval office, you have a right to be anxious; but a true Christian knows at the end of the day it’s not who (won) this election—it’s who sits on the throne of Heaven.”
Maybe he’s onto something here. Maybe we as Christians are viewing current events through the wrong lens. Instead of worrying ourselves sick about the outcome of the election, a brewing war, who might be next on the metaphorical mass-shooting list, or the Zika virus, maybe, as Lucado says, we should take an early, much-needed look at Christmas.
Consider the world of Mary and Joseph — a state of political crisis is what brought them to the village of Bethlehem. Chaos and uncertainty delivered them to the very village where God began His greatest work.
God Himself came down into the world at what Mary and Joseph must have believed its most tumultuous point.
Hope in a Really Scary Culture
Lest you begin to think Max Lucado writes off the deeply unsettling current events with a well-worn Hallmark version of the Christmas story, know Lucado truly sees the challenges facing today’s Christians. He understands trying desperately to find the line between being bold yet loving, humble yet frank and kind yet firm. He knows we are faced with — in an increasingly public and hostile forum — questions that have absolutely zero easy answers.
“One of the biggest challenges facing this generation is secularism. I grew up in a culture that was much more faith-oriented than it is today. In today’s world, if someone is a Christian, they stand out more.”
It’s true; sometimes, in an attempt to answer questions on why we do or don’t do certain things, we are called bigots, or intolerant or a whole slew of insults. Yet, in a culture that insists the Bible isn’t valid or relevant, Lucado still sees the it as the perfect guidebook. He reminds us that the Bible was written by and for cultures in upheaval. He says the faith people have today is a deeper, honest, more meaningful faith than has ever been experienced before—because of our trials.
And he calls Christians to act like they are believers in the resurrected God.
“Your relationship with God is the most valuable thing in the world. You’ve got to let God love you and forgive you every single day. The best advertisement for the Christian faith is a happy Christian. The worst advertisement for the faith is a grumpy, sullen, ungrateful Christian. You don’t have to force it. If you are at peace, happy, and feel forgiven, then you already stand out. You are in the minority.”
What sounds at first a bit trite can actually turn into a deeply resonating truth. After all, look around: Most people are not at peace. They don’t feel loved by God or forgiven by their Creator. But Lucado reminds us when you walk around in the strength of God’s forgiveness, you actually emit the aroma of Jesus. Without so much as a word about your faith, you have told the world that you’re different, and you beg them to ask why.
Easy for Him to Say
In talking to Max Lucado, a spiritual giant of our generation, you get the impression he wakes up every day and fights for his peace with intentionality. Coming from a colorful past where he dealt with an alcohol dependency that was on the fast track to addiction, Lucado is candid in the battles he has faced.
“The temptations of ministry are arrogance and hypocrisy. Those temptations are every bit as real to me as a six-pack of beer was when I was 20 years old.”
It’s startling to hear about the struggles of a man whose books are read worldwide, and have been for nearly three decades. It’s easy to assume he is somehow above the struggle.
But Lucado is as candid as he is genuinely kind. His words give us a picture of the battles every spiritual leader likely has.
“You can start to believe you’re pretty special. You begin saying things to be heard instead of because you’ve heard from God. You begin to enjoy the feeling of superiority that can be deadly in ministry.”
So how does he combat these temptations? What can we learn from seeing how Max Lucado handles spiritual attacks?
He brings it all back to the miracle of Christmas — the proof of God’s great grace.
“I have to lean on God’s grace continually. I’m not always proud of my attitudes, but I believe the same grace that saves us initially keeps us eternally. God is still on the throne, and He still comes to messy places just like He did the miraculous night in Bethlehem.”
And that is really good news.
Max Lucado’s book, “Because of Bethlehem: Love is Born, Hope is Here,” dives into the importance of the miracle that begins at Christmas and is celebrated at Easter. He has seen first-hand how hearts are softer as Christmas approaches, and his book leads readers through the roots of this beloved and miraculous event.