Avoid the Post-Christmas Blues

By Andy McQuitty

As we enter the new year I am proactively trying to avoid the “King Herod’s Counsellors’ Apathy Syndrome” also known as the post-Christmas blues. Let me explain.

You know how it is after Christmas, right? You join throngs of bargain-hunters and gift-swappers surging through the mall decked out in their Christmas gifts. Older folks will be wearing their new dresses and jewelry, younger people wearing their old, holey jeans, which are really brand new but cost twice the price just to look old. Some will have gifts to exchange—overly loud ties (or not loud enough), size 36 pants for size 40, and baseball caps with a huge fish sticking out of the bill. Everybody is on a mission to explore new stores and to boldly go where crowds and congestion had kept them from going before.

In all this fanfare, you will sense a marked difference from the pre-Christmas rush. Any focus on Christ’s birth will be decidedly missing. After all, Christmas is past. Carols about Jesus’ birth will no longer be played on the PA system. Presents will become possessions, “It’s a Wonderful Life” will have been watched, the turkey eaten, and eggnog put on sale at half price. Why think more about the birth in Bethlehem?

That’s too bad but it usually happens just that way, at least for me. Last Sunday I quoted Max Lucado about Christ at Christmas,

    For a few precious hours, he is beheld. Christ the Lord. Those who pass the year without seeing him, suddenly see him. People who have been accustomed to using his name in vain, pause to use it in praise. Eyes, now free of the blinders of self, marvel at his majesty. All of a sudden he’s everywhere.

Then, after Christmas we sense that suddenly he is nowhere. “Come let us adore him” fades into “come let us exchange them.” But wait. What happened to “yea Lord we greet thee”? Isn’t there an after effect to Christmas? When December 25 comes and goes, does our obligation to greet and respond to the baby born a king go with it? No it doesn’t. In fact, Christmas is only the beginning. It’s what we do with the Christ-child afterward that really counts. But the post-Christmas blues will block us if we let them.

I think it blocked King Herod’s counsellors too. I call their version of the post-Christmas blues, “King Herod’s Counsellors’ Apathy Syndrome”. They too had had a moment when they beheld him in scripture as Christ the Lord. When the Magi came inquiring about Christ in Matthew 2:4-6, Herod asked them and they answered easily: “. . .where the Christ was to be born. . . ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written. . .‘“ The chief priests and scribes of the people didn’t even have to look up the reference. So knowledgeable were they about the place of Messiah’s birth from Micah’s prophecy 700 years earlier that they spouted out the answer to Herod’s question instantly and enthusiastically.

It’s been said that God always speaks loud enough for a willing ear to hear. The difference between the scribes and the Magi was not what they knew, but what they did about what they knew. The Magi knew a king was to be born and moved heaven and earth to find and worship him. The scribes knew a king was to be born, where he was to be born, and approximately when he was to be born yet couldn’t be bothered with finding him. They went on with their afternoon teas and golf games and fund drives as if nothing of note were taking place.

This is nothing more or less than just plain old apathy, just as the post-Christmas blues is apathy. Apathy is often more destructive in the long run than outright antagonism. It is the breeding ground of discontent and resentment for all who would upset the apple cart. It is the sow’s ear from which silk purses cannot be made. It’s almost better to be opposed to Christ but sincere in that opposition than not to care at all.  After all, look at Saul, turned Paul the Apostle. God can take misguided convictions and transform them to good purpose. Look at C.S. Lewis. God can use people who are sincere in their wrongness better than he can people who are apathetic in their rightness.

I believe that the greatest enemy to the kingdom of God in our day is not the opposition of Christ’s enemies, but the apathy of Christ’s friends--you and me. It’s just not enough for us to know the truth but languish in apathy. We’ve got to know the truth and then get it in gear.

So my proactive wish for myself and my family and IBC in 2017 is that we will avoid the post-Christmas blues by NOT saying “Come let us adore Him” at Christmas only to quickly forget who he is. Rather, may Christmas continue for us all throughout the new year as we Magi-like honor him constantly, “Yea, Lord, we greet thee”. That’s my proactive plan and I joyfully invite you all to work it with me!

Have a blessed Christmas now and throughout the new year.

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