Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, says all too often people romanticize the Christmas story and fail to grasp the powerful meaning behind it.
"In reality, the story of Jesus is not a rags-to-riches story; it is a riches-to-rags story. It is a story of leaving the glory of Heaven for this planet. Jesus could have been born in the most elegant mansion on the ritziest boulevard in Rome," Laurie wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
"He could have had aristocratic parents who boasted of their pedigree. He could have had the finest clothes from the most exclusive shops. He could have had legions of angels as an army of servants to respond to His every whim. But He had none of that. Instead, Jesus humbled Himself," he added.
The pastor said people often romanticize the Christmas story and fail to grasp the "raw, powerful meaning" behind it.
"This stable or barn (or maybe even cave) where Christ was born was cold and damp. It also would have smelled. God incarnate was born on the dirt floor of a filthy stable. Our Savior came not as a monarch draped in gold and silk, but as a baby wrapped in rags," he said.
Laurie further emphasized that Jesus "went from being a sovereign to a servant."
"He went from the glory of God to a stable filled with animals. It has been said that history swings on the hinge of the door of a stable in Bethlehem," he continued, and urged believers to reflect on what Jesus left to come down to be with the people on Earth.
Other prominent evangelicals, including Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, have also commented on the secularization of Christmas, writing in an op-ed published in The Christian Post last week that although many Christmas songs today are festive and jolly in nature, the reality is that Jesus' time on Earth was one surrounded by warfare and danger.
"The first Christmas carol, after all, was a war hymn. Mary of Nazareth sings of God's defeat of his enemies, about how in Christ he had demonstrated his power and 'has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate' (Luke 1:52)," he wrote.
Moore continued: "We're joyful in the Lord, aren't we? We want to encourage people, don't we? And yet, what we're trying to do isn't working, even on the terms we've set for ourselves. I suspect many people in our pews look around them and think the others have the kind of happiness we keep promising — especially around Christmas — and wonder why it's passed them by."
The ethicist encouraged Christians to embrace the wide range of feelings that surround the history and meaning behind Christmas.
"By not speaking, where the Bible speaks, to the full range of human emotion — including loneliness, guilt, desolation, anger, fear, desperation — we only leave our people there, wondering why they just can't be 'Christian' enough to smile or why they, like Charlie Brown, still feel unhappy when they stand to sing 'Joy to the World,'" Moore argued.