One of the holiday decorations that has literally popped up on the lawns of neighborhoods throughout our community, and I suspect around the nation, is the inflatable. These inflatables declare with unmistakable fashion the coming of Christmas.

In close proximity of our home, one can see an inflatable Santa, an inflated Rudolph, an inflatable Frosty the Snowman that stands fifteen feet tall and bounces in the breeze, and an inflated Merry Mickey Christmas. Some of these decorations have lights and some do not. Some even have fake snow falling and swirling. On one lawn, a passerby can see Joseph, Mary, the baby Jesus and at least one of the Magi safely enclosed in a colorful plastic bubble that lights up at night.

It's inflatable Christmas. Hmmm. An interesting concept.

The inflatable Christmas is full of air. There is not much to it, at least not much of substance. It's decorative and is totally dependent upon air to make it appear as anything more than a piece of trash on the lawn. Pull the plug, and these inflatables collapse.

The inflatable Christmas is for show. Drive through these neighborhoods in the daylight hours and these same displays usually lay flat and lifeless on the ground. Empty. Deflated.

The inflatable Christmas is temporary. Like most Christmas decorations, the inflatable Christmas is seasonal. Some displays will come down on Christmas Day. Some will be packed away the day after Christmas. Some will remain in tact for a week or so through New Year's Day. Most, however, are completely out of sight by mid-January — except for those whose masters choose to leave their lights up all year, but only plug them in around Christmas, but surely even their inflatables will have to be put away when the lawn mower comes out.

The inflatable Christmas can be a reminder of a more serious condition: the inflatable Christian.

The inflatable Christian is full of air. Not much content. Not much on the inside. Not much real conviction and very little substance. No depth. On the surface, they look good. Bright. Cheerful. Exciting. Colorful. However, they are filled by what is light and air.

The inflatable Christian is only about the show. Just look at and admire them. Praise them for what appears to be really nice, but don't look on the inside. Appreciate them from a distance, but don't get too close or you may be surprised, disappointed, or discouraged.

Let's live the life ... the real life!
The inflatable Christian is temporary. They only appear on special occasions. They are not around during the dark days of winter or the dry days of summer. During those times, they're busy with what the surrounding world says are the important things. However, when the season is right and the message is pleasing, they show up ... dressed up, smiling, and looking good for the occasion.

The real Christmas and the real follower of Christ are not made of plastic and can not be deflated by simply pulling a plug. The original Christmas was real and a genuine follower of Jesus is solid in any season. The original Christmas has meaning and a real Christian is consistent in their commitment in public and private.

Jesus may have had inflatable Christmas and inflatable Christians in mind when He described the religious people of his day — the inflated religious folks — with terms like, "Everything they do is done for others to see ... hypocrites ... blind guides ... whitewashed tombs" (Matthew 23).

We have a choice of what kind of Christian we will be and what kind of Christmas we will have. Let's enjoy the season to the fullest. Let's remember the true meaning. Let's celebrate the story. Let's share the joy. Even more, let's live the life ... the real life, not the inflated one.