“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
One of the most interesting stories about Christian witness comes from a discussion Mahatma Gandhi had with a Christian missionary, Stanley Jones. Gandhi would often quote Jesus in his teaching and Jones wanted to know what kept him practicing the Hindu faith of his ancestors. Gandhi is reported to have answered, “I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.”
Of course, we all have those moments of failure when in anger or frustration we vent or respond to someone in a hasty and less than gracious way. Our humanity and the emotions that go with it sometimes mean that we act in ways which are less than kind to each other – even people we care deeply about.
The verse above is the introduction to a passage from Colossians that shares how we are to live together. We are to act like Christ. And when we don’t, we are to allow grace to bring forgiveness and reconciliation to us so that next time, we can act like Christ.
We are in the Christmas season. This is a lost season in many ways. Advent is overtaken by Christmas before Christmas comes. In fact, all the Christmas parties and advertisements lead up to the climax of the season, which is Christmas Day – actually only the first of twelve days of Christmas. Look in the papers this week and what will you see? “After Christmas sales.” In the eyes of the world, Christmas is over.
For Christians, Christmas Day is the start of a season and the Christmas season is a way of grounding our lives throughout the year. The passage from Colossians reminds us that the best evidence that Christ came to earth is not just remembering the story of the shepherds at the manger. The best evidence is for Christ to continue to live in our hearts and minister to the world through our hands and voices. When Christ works in us and through us, we are transformed from who we would be on our own into extensions of Jesus into the world today. Why just celebrate that God came to earth for only a single holiday, when you can live it for a lifetime?