Charles Schulz, born in 1922, was a devoted Christian and the author of the famous “Peanuts” comic strip. In 1950, the cartoon debuted in seven newspapers with Charlie Brown, Patty, Shermy, and Snoopy. His popularity grew and soon became worldwide by appearing in over 2,300 newspapers where he boldly used biblical references without excuse. “Peanuts” branched out into television when in 1965, the classic “Charlie Brown Christmas,” made its debut. It was produced by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson, who were extremely concerned when Schulz went beyond a story about a tree to the story of the birth of Christ. They were convinced that the public would dismiss it. Quite the opposite happened!
In the “Charlie Brown Christmas” film, the main characters are Charlie Brown, the deep thinking and insecure boy, and his friend Linus, a mature and thoughtful friend who was often ridiculed for his refusal to give up his security blanket. Until, that is, when Linus shares what Christmas is all about by reading the account of the birth of Christ in Luke 2:8-10. “And in the same region, there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
When he spoke, “fear not,” he dropped his blanket.
Jason Soroski, a pastor, writer, and musician, writes beautifully about the deeper truths of that moment.* He says: it is pretty clear what Charles Schultz was saying; it’s so simple it’s brilliant.
- The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears.
- The birth of Jesus frees us from the habits we are unable (or unwilling) to break ourselves.
- The birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to Him instead.
This world can be a scary place, and most of us find ourselves holding tightly to something temporal for security, whatever that thing may be. Essentially, because ours is a world where it is difficult for us to “fear not.”
But in the midst of fear and insecurity, this simple cartoon image continues to live on as an inspiration for all to seek true peace and security in the one place it has always been and can always still be found, Jesus.
After the epic, blanket-dropping recitation of Scripture given by Linus in response to Charlie Brown’s quest for meaning, he picks the blanket back up. Why would Linus pick up that old blanket after so boldly proclaiming an end to fear?
We all carry that same security blanket. Just like Linus, we may stand tall in a moment of faith and conviction, a moment when Scripture hidden in our heart comes to life, and all else is flung aside as we experience and proclaim the true freedom and security that only Jesus can give.
But at some point, out of habit, we reach down and pick that thing right back up. Faith, while powerful, is also delicate. Linus clearly knows the truth, and clearly proclaims the truth. The knowledge is there and the wisdom is there and the passion is there. So why does he pick it up again?
I think the answer is strikingly clear. It is because we all do the same thing. We know. We feel. We proclaim. Yet we gaze in the mirror one morning to find that tattered old blanket is draped over our shoulder yet again. And we realize that we have become so used to it being there that we hardly even noticed it.
The show ends with the Peanuts gang not just singing, but clearly and unquestionably singing in worship. Even the musical style at this point is different from anything else heard previously. The obvious song choice here could have been “O Christmas Tree,” the notes of which have already been playing gently in the background.
But the focus is no longer the tree. The focus has become bigger than the tree. The focus is Jesus. With this new focus, the kids instead slide effortlessly into “Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the Newborn King.”
Linus parts with his security blanket once again, but this time he lays it down for good at the base of that beautiful Christmas tree. We also should strive to leave our fears and insecurities at the foot of the cross, and never look back.
Linus and friends have moved from speaking truth and hearing truth into a deeper place of worship, where they finally respond to that truth, much like those shepherds who were instructed to “fear not” so very long ago.
“God is my refuge and strength, An ever-present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear, though the earth changes and the mountains slip into the heart of the sea. Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:1,2,10,11).
* Jason Soroski, Crosswalk.com