One of my favorite Christmas stories is a Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol.” The plot of the story follows an old man who is full of regret. He does not enjoy Christmas and is consumed with his own greed and self-importance. This man is Ebenezer Scrooge, and with that, we get the very term for any who do not have the Christmas spirit by referring to them as a scrooge. While watching the Disney version of this Christmas classic, I remarked to my wife how I totally understand why some become a scrooge during the holiday season. At one point in the original adaptation, Ebenezer loses the one whom he loves at Christmas. His father was abusive, his partner at the counting-house was corrupt, and all of these things had a profound effect on Scrooge. He was, at this time, all alone.
How does this Victorian-era classic on the importance of selflessness have anything to do with gathering? Well, according to Hebrews 10:24-25, the author states, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” One can rightly assume that Scrooge was “neglected.” Scrooge was not welcomed; he was not given a “wellness check,” and no one cared about Scrooge because Scrooge did not care about anyone else. The importance of gathering is not about us. Instead, it is about God, it is about placing the Lord on His throne, and yet in those moments, we take the gathering and see what we can get out of it. In “A Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer was a miser who tried to swindle everything out of people to get what he wanted. Do we sometimes become a “scrooge” to God?
As of late, I have really felt like a “scrooge” to the Lord. I cry out to Him asking for what I want: I want to grow closer to Him, I want to live by faith, and I want to be successful in my ministry. All of which are not bad things, yet my heart behind it is corrupted. I want to grow closer to Him so others can marvel at how my walk with Him is better than theirs. I want to live by faith so that I can be seen as this pillar of the community that does not struggle. I want to be successful in my ministry, so I can be a rock star preacher. All of those are me being greedy for the things of the Lord. Yet, when we gather, it is a good time for us to remember who it is that is in charge. The Apostle Paul states in his letter to the church of Rome, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). Our job as Christians is to live sacrificially, not to live with a consumeristic mentality. After this season of Christmas, I urge you that while we gather not to be a “Scrooge” to the Lord, but yet be those who live in the constant sacrifice to His will.