Ever hear the phrase “Christmas and Easter Christians”?
It’s a description of folks who only show up at church twice a year: at Christmas and Easter. Usually the phrase is spoken as a critique, not a complement. After all, how serious about your faith can you be if you only show up at church on Christmas and Easter?
But I’m convinced we need a whole lot more Christmas and Easter Christians. And I have the apostle Paul on my side. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul made a case that every follower of Christ should be a Christmas and Easter Christian. Here’s what he wrote in Philippians 2:5-8:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
In verse 5, Paul calls Christians to emulate the attitude of Christ. Specifically, the attitude we see most clearly in Jesus when we think about Christmas and Easter.
Christ’s Christmas attitude: Lay aside your rights and your glory
In verse 6, Paul explains that Jesus enjoyed all the rights and privileges of God the Father. He was “in very nature God” and possessed “equality with God.” But Jesus willingly laid aside His right and glory when he came to earth, “being born in the likeness of men.” (2:7). Jesus Christmas attitude was to lay aside his rights and take on the role of a servant.
Christ’s Easter Attitude: Lay down your life for others
If Paul talks about Christmas in verse 7, he focuses on the Easter story in verse 8: Jesus goes further than just coming to earth as a human, he goes to the cross as our sin-bearer and substitute. He became “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Paul’s point in retelling the story of Christ’s birth and death is a pastoral and practical. He wants us to adopt the same attitude. Rather than seeking our own empty glory, we are to empty ourselves of selfish ambition and conceit (2:3). We are to stop looking out for only for our own interests, and look after the interests of others (2:4).
God knows that thinking and acting like Christ will be a tall order for us. Thankfully, God provides for us what he commands from us. As Paul goes on to say in verse 12: “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
By God’s grace, let’s all seek to become Christmas and Easter Christians.