Christmas presents have been opened (thanks for the socks, Grandma!), New Year’s resolutions have been made (and quickly broken), and now we’re all back to work, slaving away to earn the few pennies we keep after taxes. But as I look back on the whirlwind of activity during the Christmas season, I see an encouraging trend.
As we drew closer to Christmas, the malls increasingly looked like a war zone. I half expected the National Guard to be on patrol. People were pushing and shoving, packing tightly into stores in search of that extra gift, that one to show someone in their life they’re special.
In light of a recent post I made about the “Penny Culture,” a term coined (ba-dump-bump!) by Joel and Luke Smallbone, of for King and Country, the crowds were kind of refreshing. All of a sudden, life wasn’t about us; it was about other people in our lives … special people who also gave us gifts because they thought we were special, too.
I mean, do we ever stop to think about it? During the rest of the year, we bow to the cultural mentality of Hollywood and other humanistic powerhouses and treat each other — and, most importantly, ourselves — as if we were only worth a penny. But during Christmas, we try and find that special gift that will tell our love ones, “You’re worth the world to me.” No wonder the secular Penny Culture hates Christmas.
And then a story my coworker told me got me to thinking. He was out recently for his four-year-old son’s oral surgery. Here’s the way he tells it:
The doctor gave my son the oral meds and sent us back out into the waiting room. He began to get drowsy after awhile, but he kept fighting the urge to sleep. He’d been to the dentist office a little over a month ago, and this was the follow up to complete everything that needed to be done to his teeth. He’d be losing some of them this time, and he was so scared.
The time came, and we went back to the dentist chair, where they strapped him down so he wouldn’t flail around and accidentally cause himself harm during the procedure. He immediately flew into a wild fit of what I thought was anger — threatening to do harm to everyone in the room (Yikes!) — while I held him down and talked to him very calmly.
Then came the point at which I realized that he wasn’t angry, but terrified. With tears streaming down his beet-red face, he looked up at me and yelled, “I don’t want to die!!!”
Oh, how that broke my heart. We stopped. I held him close, promised him that he wouldn’t die, and explained that what was about to happen would actually stop the pain he had in his mouth. He finally calmed down after that. But to think that he thought I’d let someone kill him left me with a heavy heart.
Lots of people advocate against Christmas, and millions more feel empty at Christmas time. We see depression and anger as a result. But could it be that we’ve misjudged? Could such anger and depression perhaps be due to fear and the fact that so many have bought the lie that they’re hardly worth a penny? The belief that no one could truly care about them, because they’re not worth loving?
When you’ve bought that lie — when you own it, and it owns you — how hard is it to hear and believe the truth that you’re worth so much more? How hard is it to hear that you’re not worth only a penny? How hard is it to believe that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,” wrapped Him in old cloths, laid Him in a feeding trough for animals, and set His feet on the path to a sacrificial death to take our place on a sinner’s cross?
It’s very hard. Very hard indeed. If a four-year-old can believe that his own father would allow him to die in a dentist’s chair, how big a stretch is it to say that people would believe that God is indifferent to their plight and would allow them to die without lifting a finger to save them?
It’s said that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. And what that means is it becomes accepted as truth. And that makes the real truth more difficult to accept.
We didn’t just wake up and find ourselves in a Penny Culture. It happened gradually over time. We did this to ourselves. Our apathy and unwillingness to counter the lie — our desire, perhaps, to stay in our little comfort zones — has allowed the enemy of our souls to change the culture by replacing the truth with a lie.
So if we want to move to action and be “co-laborers,” as the Apostle Paul says, then we should not be discouraged when our efforts are rejected. Just as our decline into a Penny Culture was gradual, we should expect that it’ll take some time and continuous effort to turn back the tide. But take heart; in the end, the war has already been won, because it’s been fought by a God who sees you as you are: Priceless.
Are your New Year’s resolutions broken already? Forget them. Set goals instead, and let’s put this goal at the top: To be the arms of God. Let’s wrap His love around those who need it this year — those who don’t know their true worth — and do so continuously.
For now, I’ll leave you with the opening lines of for King and Country’s latest single, Baby Boy, which could very well become an anthem:
If you told me all about your sorrows,
I’d tell you about a cure.
If you told me you can’t fight the battle,
There’s a Baby Boy who won the war.
The war was won by a Baby Boy …
for KING & COUNTRY – Baby Boy
Christian Shelby, a volunteer with Concerned Women for America, contributed to this post. The first in the series on a Penny Culture is located here.