The Christmas story is not a tame account of an historical event. We have allowed it to become cute (think Santa, stockings, and children’s plays) or romantic (think Hallmark movies)! We associate the story with December and a specific season, missing the meaning and import for daily living throughout the year.
In reality Christmas was and continues to be lived out as a cosmic event of reclamation, rescue and redemption. Typically we end the year with the celebration of Christmas. The gifts of Christmas bring life, meaning and direction when they are embraced, enjoyed, and employed all year long. We live and lead from them all year long. Leaders, we are called to participate in and co-lead a “contrast society” that God has been working towards from before the foundation of the world. Christmas is the dawn of that society in Jesus!
Gift #1 for the New Year: Our circumstances, our families, our friends, our place of origin, or our traditions do not define us. We are defined by and in relationship to our Redeemer.
Mary and Joseph quietly participated in leading a revolutionary lifestyle. Their plight was not an easy one. Surely they heard the rumors—the whispers—the outright accusations against them. They must have endured the looks, the slights, the exclusion from invitations others would have received. They were making decisions and living life from a completely new grid!
When God is heard and obeyed, life is lived one day at a time “by a way not known.” It is the most secure way. It is the way of inward peace and stability. It is the way that continues the redemptive purposes of God in this world. (What else are we or should we be leading into?)
Not many—perhaps not even most—understood or approved of their choices. It is not uncommon to have to leave friends, family, traditions or the familiar by the wayside when we choose to follow God fully. But consider their legacy! Consider the gifts left by those whose hearts were fully surrendered to God. We, 20+ centuries later, are the beneficiaries of their obedience. God defined his children, Mary and Joseph!
Leaders! How would our influence be different if we followed our Leader as did Mary and Joseph? How would following Him impact the way in which we lead, the choices we make, the way we spend our time, or the ways in which we allow others to influence us? What legacy might others draw on long after we’re gone? Is it clear that our life is defined by our relationship to Him?
Gift #1: He defines and gives definition to our life. We can lead authentically as we continue to unwrap that treasure.