Everyone I know has a favorite Christmas movie.
Mine is the old Jimmy Stewart classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. I know it’s sappy, but I always end up teary-eyed at the end when the whole town shows up to save George Bailey. They all hear that George is in trouble so they come running with cash in hand. The line goes clear out the door and keeps growing. And when the telegraph comes in from Sam Wainright authorizing his bank to make sure George has three times what he needs, it wipes me out. I know the theology is completely messed up with poor, wingless Clarence, but the central theme that keeps sucking me in is nothing less than the Gospel.
I remember hearing years ago that any story that has the power to get a million people to watch it or read it has at least part of the Gospel hidden in it somewhere. Inside of every human soul is a tuning fork and only one thing is strong enough to make it really sing, and that’s the Gospel.
In the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, the Gospel is seen in how George Bailey lives his life. Every time he is about ready to do something just for himself, a sudden need arises, and George postpones his plans so that he can help the person in need. When his own crisis hits, George feels he has wasted his life. He has never done the traveling he wanted to do. More importantly, at the moment, he never accumulated the wealth he desperately wanted. “I wish I had a million dollars… HOTDOG!” And now he’s going to go to jail for a measly $8000.00 that Uncle Billy misplaced. He cannot help himself from covering for Uncle Billy.
But then the word goes out. The man who spent his life for you needs you now. And everyone comes running because everyone has a story about how George had saved them when they most needed to be saved.
Do you see it?
Old Mr. Potter who has spent all of his days accumulating will end up dying alone. But George, who spent all of his days giving them away one by one, ends up with a houseful of people giving him all they have and doing it with joy.
At Christmas we celebrate the One who came and spent all of his days giving them away one by one. He spent his last day giving himself for you. And now there is joy to be had. There are songs to sing. There are gifts to give. Because this One died so you can live. Rejoice and see the Gospel. It’s everywhere this time of year.