God Grew Tired of Us
The True Meaning of Christmas
A Quick Netlflix Discussion Guide for Parents
God Grew Tired of Us is a 2007 documentary about the Sudan Muslim government that pronounced death to all males in the Christian South. Archival footage documents and allows viewers to catch a glimpse of their fight for life.
We follow three young men who repatriate to the U.S. John Bul Dau goes to Syracuse, and by the film's end, becomes a spokesperson for the Lost Boys and Lost Girls of Sudan; Daniel Abol Pach and Panther Bior go to Pittsburgh. All work several jobs, send money back to the camp, search for relatives lost in the civil war, acclimatize to the U.S., seek an education, and miss their homeland.
The film is a gripping story of both the fight for survival and difficult assimilation into American culture that several of the young African men go through.
One interesting part of the film is when the African men are exposed to American Christmas traditions. As they see some very familiar images, they ask many questions; such as: “Is [the Christmas tree] in the Bible?” and “Who is Santa Claus – is he also in the Bible? How is he connected with the birth of Jesus Christ?”
One of the men went on to give an interesting commentary on the holiday.
He said, “You have so many things to use to celebrate the Christmas. What we have in Africa is also good, but ours is mainly celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ; that Jesus Christ is going to be born in our heart. So we have to prepare ourselves spiritually.”
When I watched that clip there is one phrase that kept coming to mind: “Eye opening.”
Our culture has over-commercialized Christmas. On one hand, it has become politically incorrect to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas,’ yet on the other, our economy is banking on everyone still buying a lot of presents. It begs the question of what the true meaning of Christmas really is – and what our responsibility is with that truth.
Let’s talk about this:
- How would you answer some of the quest?
- What do you think it looks like to spiritually prepare yourself for Christmas?
One of the best ways to prepare for this special day is to understand “the true meaning of Christmas.” Around this time of year we hear that phrase thrown around a lot. From TV specials to Christmas cards, it seems like everyone has a different opinion about what that means.
- What are some of the “true meanings of Christmas” that you have heard?
- What do you think is the true meaning of Christmas?
The Bible thankfully can help us understand what this holiday is all about.
Read the following passage:
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.
6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
I want to challenge you to “live out Christmas.” You don’t need to boycott a store because they don’t say, “Merry Christmas.” You don’t need to throw away all your presents or tear down your decorations. But I would like you to think about these questions.
If someone were to observe you celebrating Christmas, what would they see?
Would those things show them that the birth of Jesus is important to you?
What can you do this week to spiritually prepare for Christmas?
Who is someone you know that may need to hear about the true meaning of Christmas?
We have just spent some time talking about the TRUE meaning of Christmas. Every year I watch one holiday special after the other all claiming that the true meaning of Christmas is everything from peace on earth and being kind to one another, to giving to the poor, or buying some small child a pair of shoes for his dying mother. And while these things are all wonderful and might make us feel good inside, the TRUE meaning of Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago in a small stable in a town called Bethlehem.
I’m not saying that presents and decorations are bad or that we shouldn’t have them, but I am saying that we need to make sure all those things don’t distract us from the true meaning of Christmas.
In Matthew 1:22-23 it says, "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, God with us. Make sure you catch how huge that last phrase is...God with us. The God of this universe, the Creator of everything, the all-powerful, all-knowing God, left Heaven to be with us - because He loves us.
When the shepherds left the stable that night the Bible says, “They told everyone what had happened...and they went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.” Believe it or not, that’s exactly how God wants you to leave here. He wants you to go back to your homes and schools and jobs, glorifying and praising God and telling everyone about the things you have heard and seen. That’s the best way to live out Christmas this year.
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