Your Story: The Lasting Christmas Gift
As a kid growing up in the 60’s – the age of free love and flower power, my generation – Hippies – didn’t want to pressure our children to follow anyone’s beliefs or to follow anything except what felt good. No one was going to tell us what to do or how to live so we wanted our kids to be free thinkers and explorers with no boundaries. My generation didn’t think much about the importance of faith and attending church wasn’t even considered. Church was the establishment. For the most part, Hippie’s kids grew up not believing in anything and were mostly left to fend for themselves when it came to spiritual issues. As a result, they grew up to become wanderers with no moral or religious compass. Consequently, wherever the wind blows and whatever feels good, seems groovy, or is trending, that’s what they follow – at least for the moment.
Sadly today, we’re not living in a post Christian world but a pre-Christian world. One that denies the truth of Christianity. Finding spiritual truth can’t compete with the media clutter they are immersed in. Today’s culture knows little to nothing about God and most of what they’ve heard is negative. They’ve learn about God on weekends at the local movie theater. TV series and sitcoms historically have portrayed Christianity as archaic and out of touch with culture. Consequently, they have no desire to pursue what a real relationship with God is all about.
So the question becomes: How can we get the culture’s attention to give God a try? How can we cut through the distractions, clutter, and competing media messages?
This Christmas you can give them a gift. You can share a compass that gives true direction, purpose, and hope. You can give them your written story of faith. When it comes from a trusted friend or loved one, it can be an incredibly meaningful gift for that generation. Jesus captured people’s attention because authentic stories reach into the heart and bring hope. They bring a glimpse of heaven and the peace that the world cries out for at Christmas.
In this media distracted culture today Hippie kids don’t know the difference between the “story” of Harry Potter or Hunger Games from the Biblical stories of Noah, Moses, Esther or Jesus. Today’s audiences lump them all into one category – myths and legends. And that is why your personal story is more important than ever. As a significant person in their life – friend, son, daughter, parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle who cares deeply for them, you’re a tangible person who has lived life. Lived through pain, suffering, failures and challenges and have proven the truth of Jesus to be real. You’re the living proof, right in front of them, that God is real and personally wants to know them. If your story lies dormant because you haven’t told it then for them, the legacy of God’s truth will die with you.
Here’s five suggestions to get you started:
Keep it short. Making it too long and overly detailed for this fast paced distracted culture today will get ignored. Keep it short and make them want to seek you out to find out more. Write it and let it sit for a day and then revisit it and rewrite it again. See if you condense it – tighten it up. You don’t have to start at the beginning of your life but just start with a small story – one particular time when God became real for you.
Focus on one person. Seeing in your mind’s eye, the one person you want to share your story with often keeps it personal and allows you to be more vulnerable. When you’re able to be honest then love shines through to bring God’s truth.
Don’t get preachy. No one wants to be lectured or told how it’s done. Jesus often never explained the stories He told. You don’t have to either. Let the reader think about it and want to know more.
Watch your language. Words matter today. Stay away from “Christianize.” Speak in a language this generation understands. Words like “salvation,” “fellowship,” and “redemption” often keep those who know nothing about Christianity from wanting to know because it sounds complicated and mystical. Speak the language of caring and love in everyday words.
Be Creative. You might want to include a picture of yourself or something that helps illustrate the story. If you have the talent think about adding something that’s artistic. Create a poem, musical piece, or perhaps include a piece of art or jewelry that would bring a special connection to your story. But don’t get carried away – it’s your story that must be heard.
It’s early in the Christmas rush. I challenge you to spend your time this season on what will live for eternity – your story written out for all to read. It’s the most lasting gift you could ever give.