Somehow A Charlie Brown Christmas still hits home. After watching it for the 5 millionth time I realized I was Charlie Brown! I used to enjoy the popular Christmas special’s take on the commercialization of Christmas. Amazingly, the same complaints of Charlie Brown’s gang ring true today. “It’s too commercial,” we still cry. In fact, this was one of the complaints of the puritans in the 17th century causing them to ban Christmas celebrations in favor of working on the holiday.
How ironic that Christians and non-religious holiday celebrants sound like Puritans. But instead of encouraging people to keep working at their jobs, they both encourage people to work at being good and generous. What happened to Jesus’ invitation? Come all you who labor and are wearied, and I will give you rest?
But a couple of days ago I heard Charlie Brown voice deeper misgivings about the Christmas season: “I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.”
The problem was not commercialization, though it exacerbates the blockhead’s condition. His depression lies in the impossible task of matching his emotions to the outward cheer and merriment he witnesses. Sound familiar? I would bet some of you know exactly what he feels like. I certainly do.
Many Christians have this same problem. Churches can make Christmas and Christianity sound like utopias of joy and happiness. Some church bodies outright proclaim this, others imply it and leave no space for a world full of suffering and seriousness. I know plenty of fellow believers who struggle with their faith because they do not feel like believing children of God.
Linus provides the antidote to over meditating on our flailing feelings. He points his friends focus away from themselves, their feelings and even faith, and upon Jesus. He retells the story of Jesus’ birth and, most importantly, the announcement of the angels to the shepherds. “Unto YOU is born this day in the city of David a Savior…”
Whether you feel like it or not, God has done something. Whether you believe it or not, God has given all humanity a savior: Jesus. It does not depend on your feelings. It happened. Christ was born. Christ died for YOU. Christ rose again. We can go further and point to other external acts of God in our lives such as God’s servant saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” or, “Take and eat, take and drink this is the cup of the new Covenant in My blood given and shed for YOU.”
God knows we struggle with feelings and faith until our bodies are buried. Therefore, He sends us Linus’s to remind us time and again of what God has done. It is a merry Christmas whether you feel it or not. You are saved whether you feel like it or not.
Merry Christmas Charlie Brown!