I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief. (Revelation 3:1-3)
Relate: One of the many beautiful things about Christmas is the abundance of Christmas movies. Of course the best are the traditional greats like It’s A Wonderful Life, Charlie Brown Christmas and Miracle On Thirty-Fourth Street. In addition to these and the many others (Elf, Rudolf, Frosty…), Hallmark seems to put out at least a half dozen new ones each year. All the Hallmark movies that I do my best to avoid seem to follow the same formula: Life is hard for a certain family/individual and things seem to get worse and worse as the stresses of the holidays/finances/health seem to pile up. Finally, at the very latest possible Christmas moment, someone is inspired to do just the right thing and everything turns out better. It goes from the worst to the best Christmas ever. Now go buy a Hallmark card.
Let’s be honest. Christmas is one of the few times of the year (along with the Superbowl) where what happens during the commercials is far more compelling and the main reason sensible people keep watching. Of course, there are some amazing, heart wrenching Hallmark commercials that can stir even the most jaded of hearts but I personally like the understated ones the most. This is the best one I’ve seen so far this year:
React: You don’t need for it to be Christmas to watch a wholesome and inspiring movie. You don’t even have to endure a “chic flick” as many “man movies” also can motivate and inspire us to be/do better. The first two that popped into my mind are Blood Diamond and Slumdog Millionaire. Without much effort I can add Amazing Grace, Hotel Rwanda, The Shawshank Redemption, Rabbit Proof Fence, Schindler’s List and District Nine. I will stop with those, because it would be easy to just list movie after movie that deals with issues of justice. They are out there. Most are definitely worth the watch.
The only problem I have with these movies is that people watch them, feel all warm and fuzzy inside (or righteously indignant), and then go on with their day. They consider their viewing of such a movie as their good deed for the day but it does not parlay into real action that brings real change. Even worse are those who, tongue in cheek, are called the internet’s Social Justice Warriors. They create or share a meme about feeding the poor, but they’ve never visited a soup kitchen. They talk about opening our doors to refugees, but they don’t have a clue what is already being done in their own community for immigrants, refugees, and other internationals living nearby. They write a blog about keeping Jesus the reason for the season, but they haven’t once in the last year shared the gospel with their neighbor… what’s his name again?
I am so glad that Jesus didn’t watch the mess we had made of this earth, feel bad deep down inside, but then go on with business as usual in heaven. He didn’t just shed a tear and then grab a harp to do a duet with David. Jesus saw the need and parlayed the breaking heart into physical action. He left behind the safety of heaven to step into the danger of a manger.
This Christmas let’s not let that Hallmark movie end when the last commercial is finished. Let’s think of ways we can live it out once the calendar rolls over. Let us be the Hallmark Hero.
God, help me to go. Help me to live out the gospel. I am so thankful that You have planted reminders of what is right and opportunities to learn of needs for justice everywhere. As I see and watch and hear these reminders, help my heart to remain soft and my eyes wet. Then when that movie or song or page has been done being viewed, help me to find creative ways to be a change. Let this Christmas season and the year to follow not just be about great moments of good feelings. Help it to be a time of action.