Take away the Christmas tree. Take away the lights. Take away the presents. Take away the family gatherings, Christmas goodies, and all the holiday cheer. Take everything away.
Stop baking your cookies and let them burn. Stop decorating the tree and let it remain bare. Stop wrapping the presents and forget about exchanging gifts. Stop playing the Christmas music and hear the beauty of the silent night. Forget the holiday cheer and the flippant "it's all about Christ" attitude. Strip Christmas of everything festive and get down on your knees. What on earth has happened here? What is Christmas?
Whatever happened to the Christ in Christmas? What distinguishes Christmas from any other special event except the commercialistic festiveness? What is Christmas really about anymore? Is there anything left amid all the hustle and bustle? Why even celebrate it? Why do we pretend it's all about Christ and yet act as if it isn't about Him at all--as if the holiday celebrations exceed Christ's birth in importance? Why do we get more excited about the festivities than about the true reason behind why we ought to celebrate Christmas--the birth of Jesus Christ? It would be better not to celebrate Christmas at all than to make it a mockery of Christ's birth. Does joy to the world mean the joy of John the Baptist leaping in his mother's womb at the coming of Jesus' mother? Does it mean the joy of the angels singing in the heavens? Does it mean the joy of the shepherds forsaking all to worship before Him? Or is our joy to the world merely a representative of our getting caught up in holiday festivities?
People flippantly say "oh yea, I know the holiday is about Jesus", but it ends there. Too often we try to focus merely on the happy go lucky things about Christmas because we either want to ignore the reason for the season, or don't see a way to bring it to light amidst all theh commercialism. How can we lie like to ourselves that? How can we profess to celebrate Christ at Christmas and yet the only things we are really celebrating are the traditions that just so happen to bring up Christ? It is time that we strip everything away and face the naked truth of the birth of Christ.
Christ's birth was spoken of at His dedication by Simeon when he said that He was destined for the fall and rising of many, and for a sign which will be spoken against. He went on to say to Mary that things would happen that would be as a sword piercing her spirit, and that the thoughts of many would be revealed.
Sounds like something to be joyful and festive about, doesn't it? Christ did not come to throw a party on earth. Christ came to bring salvation to all. It would bring the rise and fall of many. Jesus Christ is more loved and more hated than any other person or thing in the entire world. Yet if all of this is true, why is joy and rejoicing and glory mentioned numerous times surrounding Jesus' birth? Because of the salvation He brings. He brings judgment to the unbelieving, but life eternal to those who believe.
For those who believe, Christ's birth is indeed a time of joy and rejoicing, but to those who are perishing, it ought to be an awakening call that there is something serious beneath the feet of all the commercially festive snow we have packed on top of ground zero of Christmas. Who are we to sit around a lit Christmas tree, drinking mugs of hot cocoa and opening presents when during Christmas day millions of people are dying around the world without the hope of eternal salvation in Jesus Christ? The day we set aside to celebrate the birth of Christ is to us who believe a most precious gift of eternal salvation, but to those who do not believe it is a foretelling of the day when they will stand before the throne of God and cast into eternal hell fire because they did not believe. Why? Because we pretended Merry Christmas but celebrated Happy Holidays. We get caught up in Christmas cheer rather than the Christmas gift of God. We have and know the truth, so why are we letting the festivities of Christmas drown our voice--and why are we not even using our voice?
How can we deem it acceptable to sing Christmas carols when we don't use that same mouth to spread the true meaning of Christmas--the gift of Jesus Christ bringing eternal salvation to all who believe? Christmas festivities are innocent and fine, until they shove Jesus out into the cold. A Christ-less Christmas that talks about Christ, but acts like anything but, should be repulsive to us, and yet it is what we do every year.
I speak to myself as well as to all of you. I do not use my voice enough to spread the gospel. It's easy when someone changes the subject away from the things of God to give up and say "oh well, I tried". O be thankful God did not give up that easily on us! To the point where He sent His only Son to be born in a stable - a mere filthy cave, so that you and I and the person shivering outside in the snow could experience what is indeed a worthy cause for celebration: the salvation of our souls, what 1 Peter calls the end--the climax, the ultimate end and goal--of our faith.
It's easy to judge others and say "well what are you going to do about it?" but that is not our position. It is not our position to judge others, whether friends or family, sons or daughters, especially if it is something we ourselves struggle with. If we want to make a change, then our duty is to lead by example. The world sees Christians not celebrating Christmas any different than they do, and no wonder everybody thinks it's just about the festivities. No wonder they mock Jesus, seeing that even Christians do the same on Christmas. There is nothing wrong with celebration. That is, unless we let that become the main focus, and bury Christ beneath the snow.
I challenge you, as we draw near to Christmas, and as the spirit grows, to keep this in mind as you participate in your holiday festivities. With this in mind bake your cookies, decorate your Christmas tree, wrap your presents, and play your Christmas music. As you do all these things, ask yourself, what am I doing in the midst of all the festivities to keep the reason for the season alive in me and in others? What does Christmas mean to me?
Blog Post IndexWhat Is Christmas? He Said Be Still Don't Fake It As Iron Trusting God With Goals True Friends You Have Been Called To Liberty We Overcome Memories With God All Things Are Possible Is Our Light Shining? Paul's Last Words #10: Conclusion Paul's Last Words #9: Our Faithful Lord Paul's Last Words #8: Who Are We Like? Paul's Last Words #7: Loving His Appearing Paul's Last Words #6: Keeping The Faith Paul's Last Words #5: Running The Race Paul's Last Words #4: Fighting The Fight Paul's Last Words #3: As A Drink Offering Paul's Last Words #2: Your Ministry Paul's Last Words #1: I Charge You Unicorns in the Bible Riches: Good or Bad? Do We Know Him? If There Was No Tomorrow As I Have Loved You Following Christ Forgiveness Faith and Works #4 (Final Part): Dead Faith Faith and Works #3: Works Are Your Witness Faith and Works #2: Works Aren't It Faith and Works #1: What Does It Profit? A God Who Approves Cannibalism? Happy The One Who Dashes Not Everyone Who Says To Me, "Lord" Rightly Dividing The Word?