Just before Christmas, “Celebrity Hard Quiz”, an Australian TV show, featured a series of questions about Christmas. One of the panelists, Waleed Aly, piped up, “Could you come up with a category more culturally-exclusive?”
To his credit, host Tom Gleeson briefly replied, “Yes,” and went on with the quiz.
Waleed Aly is a commentator in his own right, a lawyer, academic and university lecturer. He may have simply been going for a smart-aleck remark, but it’s a good opening: because from His lineage, through His ministry, choice of apostles, resurrection and work of His followers through the next, oh, 2,000 years, Jesus Christ proves to be the most inclusive person ever.
Look at His lineage, as described by Matthew (Matthew 1:1-11). It’s filled with schemers, prostitutes, instances of adultery, harlotry, deception and mixed marriages. There were also great leaders and people chosen by God to carry His plans forward — like Abraham, Jacob, David and Zerubbabel.
In His ministry, Jesus said,
“… the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
“This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.
“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”— John 6:37b-40
“Everyone” who sees the Son and believes in Him … “the one who” comes to Jesus, He will not cast out.
That’s pretty doggone inclusive, don’t you think?
Christmas, don’t forget, is the celebration of God going to extremes to make sure all His people are reconciled to Him. Of course, it’s up to us to choose to be “included” in this plan.
What’s more, Jesus calls us to go out and spread the good news of God’s love for us and the opportunity to shake off our sinful nature — the thing that keeps us from God — to anyone and everyone. Again — everyone can play: everyone is “included”.
So kudos to Tom Gleeson for saying that, yes, there are more culturally exclusive festivals than Christmas.
And one more thing: the announcement of Jesus’ birth was definitely not “exclusive”. More about that on Monday.