Scrooge Without Redemption
Dr. Stephen Phinney
Who was the Scrooge of your Christmas past?
Every Christmas, I am burdened for the masses who have few pleasant memories to recall during the Christmas season. I grieve over their demise, whether it was poverty, childhood abuse, a family who found Christmas dispiriting or having a Scrooge in the family. Despite the commercialism that comes with this season, as for me, it has always been a celebration. However, the reality is, this is not the case with the masses.
Moments ago, our family finished watching a movie on the Charles Dickens playwright of “A Christmas Carol.” If you remember, it is about a grumpy, selfish, melancholy old man called Scrooge who believes homeless people should go to prison or into workhouses. His wealth drove him into a corner of loneliness and despondency. That is until he got a glimpse of the price tag that came with his morbid past, present, and future. Fortunately, this dream shook him to the core - awakening him to the reality of his selfishness.
In reality, Dickens had great sympathy for the poor and hoped “A Christmas Carol” would make people more generous as his main character, Scrooge, had a wake-up call, which became his doorway to freedom is found in giving.
In his dream, he is visited by his dead business partner, Jacob Marley, who wanders the earth with heavy chains, holding a money box filled with greed and selfishness. Marley tells him he has one more chance to avoid the same fate. He also announces that he will be visited by Christmas past, present, and future. With that, the story unfolds.
After being visited by these characters, Scrooge awakens a renewed and changed man on Christmas morning. He jumps to his feet and hurriedly takes action in his newfound freedom in giving.
Most of us have heard the aged phrase of; It is better to give than receive. Christmas becomes the season of the greatest test of this adage. While most of us focus on the pleasantries of the gifts we receive, a few find delight in the receiver’s faces.
I imagine Jesus to be like this. That his face lights up with Holy glory each time, a soul receives the gift of salvation. Many of us work relentlessly to make Christmas about Jesus. In the meantime, Jesus is working to make this human holiday about the Bride of Christ giving His Life away to desperate souls. For many reasons, we tend to forget this missional logic.
Allow me to be a Scrooge for a moment.
Understanding that there is little about Christmas that is Biblical, outside of the first coming of Jesus Christ, it is a holiday we can use to proclaim the Gospel.
The reality is little is known about the actual date of the birth of Jesus. The Father kept the details minimal and close to His bosom. Probably for good reasons. Another known fact – the Body of Christ did not acknowledge the birth of Jesus outside of the simple facts presented in the Gospels until the Catholic church began practicing the pagan holiday of Yule. In ancient times men would douse themselves in the blood of animals sacrificed to the gods’ Thor, Odin, and Frigga. The pagans would ignite raging bonfires fed by burly tree trunks called Yule logs. Yule is also a season that focuses on rebirth and renewal as the sun sinks in the sky and prepares to rise again to usher in a new beginning. It’s a festival of light, both literally and figuratively. As per the norm for the Catholic church, they adopted this holiday and swapped the “sun” for God’s Son, the “Christ.” Shortly after the Catholics integrated this tradition, the Masonic “Christians” integrated Christmas trees, Santa Claus, and other pagan practices. However, after the denominational separatist were established, they shifted the focus to “baby Jesus” by the Middle Ages, which was the period of European history from the fall of the Roman Empire.
For centuries, authentic Christians celebrated the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as their primary “holiday.” It was not until the denominations began to place the icons of the Catholic’s “Christ-mass” into their churches that shifted the church from worshipping a resurrected Lord to worshipping a baby in the manger. This shift removed the sting of the Gospel while propagating a global peace that all could participate in. After all, few are threatened by a baby, right?
Today, most believers understand that the lion’s share of holidays has pagan roots. Don’t panic! Our job is to make use of these “holidays” to deliver the authentic message of the Gospel, salvation through the indwelling Life of Jesus. Our family uses lights, trees, ornaments, and such to draw people to Christ. For example, we changed the buzz title of “Merry Christmas” to “Merry Christ-as-Life.” We have a large sign in our front yard that communicates that, along with a well-lit life-size cross. From ornaments to lights, you will discover a clear message pointing viewers to the greatest celebration of all – the believer’s co-death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. The bottom line is we use existing “holidays” to deliver the message that weighs heavy on the heart of Jesus.
The ultimate Scrooge.
The difference between the Scrooge in Dickens’ story and that of Satan being the ultimate Scrooge is one experiences redemption and the other cannot. Think about it. Satan is wealthy. He walks around with chains on and carries a box filled with greed and selfishness. He is a ghostly being haunting our dreams. Tempting us with self-love throughout the day. Brainwashing humanity to put "self" first before giving unto others. Most Bible readers know his destiny. Jesus comes to put him in chains and tosses him into the eternal flames of condemnation. Why? Because of his temporary success of deceiving humanity into following him through self-worship, which destined the world to be greedy and selfish.
Satan is a ghost of Christmas past. Since he has no control over the future, he cleverly designed a pagan holiday(s) that implicated him as a “replica god” of THE one and only God. Furthermore, God will not tolerate his demonic ideologies in the end.
Jesus doesn’t need holidays to proclaim why He came to this earth. He arrived in the humblest circumstances recorded to date. There were no news headlines, no flashy announcements, no global witnesses, or privileged birthing elements outside of being born in the lows of animals – a barn. A predestined plan by His beloved Father. What did Satan do? He elevated Jesus to the status of a commercialized baby who has no power to save humanity from the grasp of his hand. It appears his plan is successful – for now. Soon, and very soon, the Ghost of Christmas Past will be buried by his own power-grabbing delusions.