I’m a Christmas Hog.
Growing up, it was always about me: my presents. My tree. My family celebration. Sure, I was a churched kid raised by parents who tried to work it out of me, but truth be told, Christmas was more about me than sweet baby Jesus.
I’ll never forget the year that one of my mom and dad’s friends got a divorce just before Christmas. They invited her to spend Christmas day with our family, and I nearly blew a gasket. Her presence would surely taint my presents. What if the focus was not on my needs, but hers? Stinkin’ divorcée.
Okay, so maybe I wasn’t that bad. But trust me when I say that I was a selfish little twit.
The Selfish Hog mentality extended to my response whenever my church would talk about missions. Missionaries were the weird people with weird clothes who showed up at our church every fifth Sunday night armed to the teeth with seventeen hour slide shows of a well that they built out of dried cow poop. I was a hearer, but never a doer. As a matter of fact, It wasn’t until I was 29 that I went on my first international mission trip.
That’s when the Selfish Hog began to die.
Merriem and I spent nine days in North Africa with our best friends, who at that point had been living overseas for a year. We saw where they lived…where they shopped…where they worked. We met the people they had befriended, immersed ourselves in their relationships, and sat amazed as we listened to their fluent mastery of the new language. For the first time in my life, I not only understood the life of a missionary, but missionaries became my heroes.
I returned from that trip a changed person. Since that time, I’ve been on several other trips to visit the Summit’s church planters, and each time I’m amazed that these selfless people are representing selfish ol’ me.
So what does my childhood Christmas and my adult missions experience have to do with each other? Well, a lot actually. You see, when I was a kid, part of Christmas was this deal that Southern Baptists called the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Unfortunately, Lottie was a girl’s name (bummer!), but fortunately, that girl was a stallion when it came to missional living, and so the Southern Baptists honored her by naming the whole Christmas offering after her. Whoa.
At the Summit, we dropped Lottie’s name from our Christmas Offering a few years back, even though it goes to the same place and serves the same purpose. We had to – smart alecky pastors would giggle every time you said “Lottie.” But I digress.
Last Sunday we began collecting the annual Summit Christmas Offering. The goal this year is $255,000. The first week out, nearly $150 k was collected (to put this in perspective, last year the first-Sunday take was “only” $90 k.) Summit, you have proven to me a missions-giving and missions-going church for the last several years. This year is shaping up to be no different. In a season where everybody is talking recession and cutbacks and bailouts, you have proven once again that those things – while impacting – have no ultimate effect on our responsibility to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth.
I’m proud to be a part of a church like the Summit. I’m excited that not a single cent of this money stays here – it all goes out to bless other people, other communities, other church plants for the gospel. I’m thrilled that my dinky donation is combining with the giving of hundreds of other Summit friends to snowball into one huge gift. I’m amazed that so many people from kidslife to StudentLife to college kids to Young Professionals to adults are jumping in on this.
If you haven’t given yet, do it today. Consider making this the largest single gift that you give to anyone this year. You can give throughout the month of December, just mark your check as “Summit Christmas Offering.”
No matter your financial situation, you’ve been blessed. Now quit being a Selfish Hog and be a blessing.
Bonus scripture passage:
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3)