Where can you hear the Gospel preached on prime time television? Don’t laugh – it’s a rare event, but it occurs faithfully every year in early December. It doesn’t come from a famous preacher, celebrity, or politician, it comes humbly from a child. For over fifty years God has chosen to preserve a precious ray of light by using a misfit to deliver the true meaning of Christmas, disabling the political correctness and squashing the bogus claims of separation of church and state.
Every year I enjoy watching the annual cartoon special “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, which first appeared in 1965. Because I saw the initial broadcast, I every time I see it I feel old. Because the Gospel message is eternal, it remains as important and refreshing as always, and not at all a dated relic from the 1960s. Its message is timeless and comes from the Ancient of Days, who sent His Son to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21).
Life in the 1960’s was simpler, although the pace of the American lifestyle was accelerating rapidly. Technological, political, and cultural upheavals were rampant and America was losing much of its spiritual innocence. This is the time when our culture first questioned if God were dead. The church was experiencing a mass exodus of members, many of whom have never returned.
Charles Schultz, the creator of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang, was a religious man who recognized the spiritual turmoil in our society. Schultz was able to impart to Charlie Brown, the perpetual loser, a sense of longing for something better than the culture was delivering. Charlie Brown was looking for the real meaning of Christmas while everyone around him, even his faithful dog Snoopy, was caught up in the commercialism, covetousness, and greed.
In 1965, the concepts of commercialism and greed during the Christmas season were less developed and entrenched than they are today. Our society was looking back on a long history of faith-based living, yet transitioned swiftly into a secular world. Today, the commercialism and greed of Christmas are no longer just a cliché, they are institutionalized. To many, it’s just a convenient platitude to utter in order to sooth a guilty conscience brought on by conspicuous consumption. Worse yet, others see the secular activities as “normal” and fail to make any spiritual connection at all, much less recognizing Jesus as the Reason for the Season. Others are working actively to remove Christ and the name Christmas from the entire season. Sadly, their efforts often succeed.
God gave us a small but lasting gift through the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Charlie Brown is searching for the spiritual meaning of Christmas while the world around him focuses its attention elsewhere. He comes off as the real loser, just as Christians today are ridiculed for seeking and obeying their spiritual callings. Christians are often viewed as blockheads, not unlike how the cartoon children view Charlie Brown. But God is faithful to those who seek Him, and He sends a messenger to Charlie Brown to comfort him spiritually and to remind him of the precious gift of His Son.
It is encouraging to me whom He sent. It wasn’t the suave, popular, pushy, and worldly Lucy, who was always ready to take control of the situation in her own prideful way – ready to give you five compelling reasons in the form of a closed fist if you challenge her. Instead, God chose through Charles Schultz the character Linus, her brother, another social outcast, who delivered the important message of Christ’s birth, the real meaning of Christmas.
Linus, the emotionally crippled, blanket-toting misfit was lifted up to bring light to those suffering in spiritual darkness. Scripture often records God’s choice of lowly servants to do glorious tasks. God called lowly shepherds, also social outcasts of the time, to recognize and glorify the Baby Jesus as His first visitors. He used Mary Magdalene, a woman with a past, who was the first to proclaim Christ had risen from the dead. God often selects the humble to deliver His most important announcements.
Hearing Linus read the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke 2 is a true gift from God. These passages have been with us for two millennia, yet they, or any Scriptural verses, are rarely heard today on television, especially in network programming. In Hollywood’s eyes, it’s not normal or cool to read God’s Word, especially on prime time, national broadcasts. Ironically, many people are too busy searching for their own glory and success to take the time to find out how to achieve success for all eternity. As a crowning glory, the cartoon special ends on a high note, with all the children singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing, another rare instance of hearing our LORD glorified on national television.
Through Charles Schultz, God has given us hope through the Charlie Brown Christmas special – the Gospel will be preached. As with many Christians today, Charlie Brown and Linus, the spiritual ones, are not considered normal amongst their peers, but they seem to be the only ones able to bring us the message of the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus warned us the world would give us trouble (John 16:33). This is normal, especially if we’re about His business, which is also normal, but not to the world.
Linus, a mere cartoon character, was bold for Him. You too, can be bold today for Him. Don’t be silent about that silent night. Pray to Him for the opportunity to witness to others. Pray He will give you the wisdom to recognize the opportunity, and pray for the boldness to follow through with words the Holy Spirit has promised to provide. Then rejoice in the salvation we receive through Him.
“I’m Normal.™ I AM.”
It’s God Talking to You
In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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