“Who Switched the Price Tags?”
By Pastor Ron Buxton
I had a philosophy professor in college who absolutely loved Soren Kierkegaard. I simply do not. Why? Kierkegaard was a 19th century writer who really opened the door to deconstructionism within the ranks of Christian higher education. However, setting that major problem aside, I want to summarize one of his writings (referred to as a parable) to make my point in this article today. And it has a lot to do with the modern-day celebration of Christmas.
His parable is a story about two men who broke into a jewelry store at night, but they didn’t steal anything. Instead, they changed the price tags on every piece of jewelry. Thus, cosmetic necklaces, bracelets, and rings got marked up hundreds of dollars whereas the very expensive pieces became ridiculously cheap. Get this. Weeks went by and nobody noticed the difference! And what was Kierkegaard’s whole point to this parable? In his own words, he wrote: “The people of my day have no ability to tell the truly valuable from the virtually worthless!”
Allow me to sermonize about the 21st century and the day known as Christmas. Somebody has switched the price tags! What I mean is that value has been ascribed to gifts, decorations, and a fictionalized guy named Santa Claus. And, to the contrary, the Child born in Bethlehem has been stored in some kind of metaphorical attic to be taken out, dusted off, and placed upon the shelf every year! I am not exaggerating. Many children under the age of 13 cannot tell you what a “manger” is. I know. I’ve asked quite a few over the years–only to get a confused look from them!
The Bible tells us that: “He [Jesus Christ] came unto His own, and His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:11) Why? Somebody also switched the price tags in that ancient land of Israel 2000 years ago. You see, for them, they were looking for a conquering Messiah to quickly vanquish the Roman occupation. And so, their values were upside-down. Ironically, they were looking for cosmetic jewelry–and willing to pay top dollar for it. Little did they realize, however, that the most expensive “gift” to ever appear on planet earth had been marked-down ridiculously.
C.S. Lewis wrote: “It cost God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things: but to convert rebellious wills cost His crucifixion.” That, my friends, was the ultimate “price tag” that was ever assessed in the history of mankind! And it’s that price tag– that is presented so cheaply today– that so many people very superficially celebrate as Christmas.
Folks, I am praying that you’d see the switched price tags and do something about it. That is, that you’d stop over-evaluating all the gift-giving and holiday stress that makes no sense when you really think about it. You see, that glorious “Present” wrapped in swaddling clothes is the true meaning of Christmas. And my prayer is that you’d know that, switch back the correct price tags, and reveal that to all your friends and family! Merry Christmas!