by Stan Crader
I sat down at my desk with the intention of adding a few words to my next novel, Approach The Bench. And then I saw a note to myself that I need to finish the family Christmas letter. While in the process of closing the file to my book and looking through my documents folder for the unfinished Christmas letter my eyes locked onto a book lying next to the keyboard. A.W. Tozer’s words were calling.
“What comes to mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us,” author A.W. Tozer once wrote. “The most portentous fact about any man is not what he, at a given time, may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.”
As you might guess, A.W. Tozer was a deep thinker whose writings seem to pose more questions than they answer, and those particular comments set me to thinking. You see, Tozer uses the infinitive omni words to describe God’s attributes – omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent – and to describe God using any other words is to anthropomorphize Him.
What’s anthromorphize? some of you may ask. I’ll be happy to tell you. Athropomorphism is the act of attributing human characteristics to something, especially a deity, like God. We humans tend to define things by relative comparison, but the problem with describing God is that His attributes simply have no comparison. His attributes are so infinite that our minds can’t comprehend them – but that doesn’t stop the anthropomorphist from anthropomorphizing.
And that brings me to another conundrum.
I think we are also defined by what comes into our minds when we think about Christmas. We’ve all heard the aphorism “It is better to give than to receive,” and while most of us try to embrace that concept, there’s always some Yahoo that will say receiving is plenty good and he’s just fine with letting others have the pleasure of giving. Poor deluded schmuck.
Or is he? Ponder this for a moment.
Is Christmas about giving or receiving?
“It’s about giving,” you say, and you’d be right. Christmas is the time of year that we catch up on our charitable gifts and give thought to what our loved ones and friends would appreciate receiving. Most mature minds are focused on giving. Only children (and the Yahoos) are focused on receiving. Right?
Not so fast there buckaroo, we’re not talking about Red Rider BB guns.
Christmas is the celebration of God’s gift of His son, Jesus, to the world. So, for God, Christmas is about Giving. For the rest of us, it’s about Receiving.
So, the next time you’re asked if Christmas is about giving or receiving, you can answer that it’s about receiving. But unless you want to be called a Yahoo, you’ll probably have to explain.
Or if you find yourself at Christmas dinner, sitting at a table where no one is talking…ask the question yourself. It will most likely provoke many to think in way they haven’t been taught and the conversation will surely turn anthropomorphic. If, along the way, someone accuses you of being an anthromorphist, just smile and tell them it’s better than being a Yahoo.
Speaking of a Red Rider BB gun – this year marks the 30th anniversary of ‘A Christmas Story’. It’s a great story on receiving, but not the right kind of receiving. Ralphie does in fact nearly shoot out his eye. And then there’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”, it’s a story that depicts the right kind of receiving. George gives and gives but in the end enjoys the biggest blessing when he receives.
I hope that your heart is filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Stan Crader was born and raised in Bollinger County Missouri. Coming of age in rural Missouri provided him the material for many of the rich characters in his books. He credits the variety of jobs and the people with which he has worked for providing him his creative foundation.