Prof: 'Charlie Brown Christmas' can be helpful
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- In the classic TV special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," Linus reminds the rest of the Peanuts gang of the true meaning of Christmas by reciting the story of Christ's birth from Luke 2.
Christians could do worse than to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas this holiday season, seminary professor David Mills says, because it can remind them to share the Gospel.
"Linus gets it," said Mills, assistant professor of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
"God gave us Jesus in Bethlehem because we need His death at Calvary," Mills said, emphasizing the necessity of Jesus to be fully human and fully divine in order to fulfill God's plan for the redemption of sinners.
Mills suggested that Christmas be celebrated by looking forward to the second coming of Christ.
"Connect the birth of Christ with the throne of David," Mills said. "The manger points toward the throne, and the first birth anticipates the second coming. The Old Testament does not miss this connection. We shouldn't either."
Mills also shared some practical ways that Christians can maximize the Christmas season by proclaiming the Gospel:
-- "Do what you do best in evangelism with a Christmas focus. For example, if you preach or teach, explain why the birth of Christ is essential to the Gospel. As you witness one-on-one, exalt the birth of Christ."
-- "If someone interjects Santa Claus into a conversation or celebration, politely turn the conversation to the history of Nicholas the bishop of Myra and his generosity to the poor. The real story is far more fascinating than the myth."
-- "Sing louder during the Christmas season than you have ever sung before."
-- "Your Christmas cards, your decorations, your gifts, your prayers and your Gospel tracts can all exalt Christ at Christmas."
-- "Do a Christmas survey of people you see in public. Ask them what they like most about Christmas and what they think Christmas means. Keep the results and share them."
-- "Invite friends to your church's Christmas celebrations. These have grown in popularity in the last decade and with good reason. Hearts hunger for the truth when Jesus is exalted as He is in the Christmas season."
Matt Queen, assistant professor of evangelism at Southwestern, added other opportunities for sharing the Gospel during the Christmas season:
-- "Go Christmas caroling in your neighborhood as a family and use it as an evangelistic opportunity."
-- "On Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, purchase a gift or meal and take it to a struggling family or neighbors and use it as an evangelistic opportunity."
-- "Many churches or associations have toy store ministries during this time. Volunteer as an evangelistic counselor for a church or association with whose doctrine you agree."
-- "If you decorate your yard with Christmas lights or decorations ... in a neighborhood where people drive throught to see Christmas lights or decorations, consider setting up a table outside with hot chocolate, coffee and Gospel tracts, and invite them to park for a moment and share the Gospel with them."
Although, for many people, the holiday season is a time to rest, Queen said there should be no breaks from sharing the Gospel.
"Paul instructs Timothy, and all of us by extension, that we must preach the word in season and out of season," Queen said.
Christians also should remember "that lost people everywhere are dying with no hope for salvation outside of hearing the Gospel and being given an opportunity to respond," Queen said.
"Death takes no holiday," he said in citing an oft-spoken phrase at Southwestern of the responsibility to 'Preach the Word. Reach the World.'"
Benjamin Hawkins is senior newswriter for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas