“How The Grinch Stole Christmas” is an annual Christmas program popular with children and even some adults. Have you ever wondered why? Christmas stories and the spirit of Christmas bring hope to earth for a short season. Hope that perhaps peace on earth and good will towards men is a real possibility. For a few days the world becomes a better place. However, as in any story there is always a bad guy trying to ruin everything. Enter the Grinch with his cold heart ruining Christmas for Whoville. With hope shattered is redemption possible? Can an evil person be changed and our hope restored? This Christmas you will encounter the cynics and Grinches who will seek to steal the joy of your Christmas. How do you not allow that to happen or even more important how do you not be a Grinch?
The first step in maintaining joy is to accept the hard reality of the world’s condition and how it got this way. A core issue with humanity is we are homesick and most don’t fully understand why. The reason why is we are living in exile ever since the Garden of Eden, “…Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which He was taken. He drove out the man…” Our home, Paradise, was lost and along with all that came with it – a perfect environment, peace, eternal youth and life, a relationship of oneness with God and harmony in the family. For Adam and Eve, all their bodies needed to sustain them for eternity was provided by God. Their significance was found in their relationship with God, who walked with them each day in the garden. They had a purpose assigned to them by God: be God’s image on the earth, multiply and fill it with others like them and rule and subdue the creation as God’s representative. This truly was paradise.
Our homesick hearts
Ever since our exile something has been missing in our life. Through all the generations from the garden until now, we have tried to fill the hole with our best efforts and substitutes. Satan has tempted us with his cheap imitations, but they never satisfy. Throughout human history we have developed myths and stories passed through time that excite our imagination and resonate with our homesick heart. So we set off on quests to find the fountain of youth or discover paradise, Shangri-La or a utopia. We write stories, songs, explore the globe, seek fame, power or riches in an attempt to fill the void.
We continue to discover and unlock the secrets of the creation to move our knowledge of science, medicine and technology forward. Sometimes this knowledge serves humanity. Sometimes it serves the selfish interests of an individual or a group. The mixture of good and bad motives is the result of two realities. The first is the sinful nature of people originating in the Garden of Eden. The second reality is the residue of God’s image in each of us. The fall of man marred the image of God in us but didn’t totally obliterate it. Theologically this means we do not seek nor can we find our way home on our own. However, the residue of this image leaves us longing for what was lost in paradise even though we can’t fully identify the longing. No matter what we accomplish, possess, or conquer in this life it is never enough because we are not home but still in exile.
Have a Merry Christmas
We identify with the Grinch. His redemption and change gives us hope for ourselves and others. I remember a Christmas Eve as a junior high teen when dad came home drunk. He and mom had a big fight (again) about his drinking and he left. The next day was Christmas morning, what used to be the best and happiest day of the year for my brothers and I. That night dad was the Grinch, every anti-Christmas spirit and joy killer rolled into one. My prayers were that come Christmas morning dad would be changed into a new sober, loving dad and we would all live happily ever after. I just wanted a little piece of the Christmas hope for my family, but instead I got the Grinch.
This is why stories like the Grinch resonate in the hearts of children and adults alike. They bring the hope of redemption – something better than the current reality. This Christmas watch the story again. Look for what brings the life change that leads to happy ever after? If you remember the Grinch gets a new heart. His cold, hard heart is changed to a soft one full of love. This is the miracle of redemption. This is why Christ came into the world that first Christmas, to change the world one heart at a time.
What do we do this Christmas with all the Grinches we run into? Tell them of the free gift of the new heart God is waiting to give them. Better yet, show them what an anti-Grinch looks like. The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of Christ. Allow Him to show through you this year and have a merry Christmas.
Dr. John Hawkins, Sr. runs Gateway Counseling Center in Boynton Beach along with his son John Jr. He can be reached by visiting gatewaycounseling.com.