This can be a challenging time of year for me. I’m always relieved when it’s over. I feel a lot of pressure to do things that have nothing to do with the real object of Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ birth. I’m not particularly interested in the arguments against celebrating Christmas at all. Yes, the date was adjusted by the Catholic church to coincide with a pagan festival. Yes, many of the traditions now part of Christmas have pagan roots. I’m not convinced that God is much concerned with all of that. He is concerned with the condition of our hearts. For most of us, the Christmas tree has no link to the idolatry that brought it to us. Santa is a different issue. I suppose no harm is done by playing out the fantasy for children as long as we tell them it’s a fantasy. The story does have some Christian roots. However, lying to them that he is real, giving him god like qualities only to have the myth debunked in later years compromises our witness to the real God. As to timing, His birth was probably several months earlier, but we can’t even agree on the year, much less the day. Let’s put all that aside and celebrate His birth.
That leads to the question of how. This is where we’ve gone terribly wrong. Certainly charitable giving goes up, but even much of that is pointless. Myriad organizations exist to give toys to poor children on Christmas. What good is that? It may make them happy for a while, but it only feeds the self-oriented spirit that should be antithetical to a celebration of the One who gave it all. The children receive no lasting benefit while we can feel good about ourselves for giving them a Christmas experience. This is not to say that it cannot be a tool for sharing the Gospel and the love of Jesus or that more practical giving does not occur. In fact, it’s a better use of our resources then spending them on ourselves and our families, who generally don’t need and sometimes don’t want what they end up getting.
Even among Christians, Christmas celebrations are often more about us than about Him. He gets a nod. Some of us might even go to church and a few of those may worship rather than watch a show, but most of us just round up the family and rip into the presents. I’ve used this analogy before, but I think it’s a good one so I’ll repeat it. Let’s say it’s your birthday. It’s amazing how many people are celebrating it. There are parties all over the world. There’s just one problem. You’re not invited to any of them. In fact, if you showed up at most of them you would not even be welcome. Everyone buys presents, but none of them are for you. They are all for each other.
Christmas can be a wonderful time. There’s nothing inherently evil about most of the things we do. Enjoy the fun, but don’t forget why the season exists in the first place. Bring a present for Jesus. Never was the question so appropriate, “what do you get for someone who already has everything?” I think I know a few things He would like.
- He really loves new creations. If you take this wonderful opportunity to share His story with someone who doesn’t know Him yet and that person turns His life over to Jesus, you’ve just Given Jesus the best gift ever.
- On kind of a related note, He’s really into forgiveness. Maybe you have friends or family you’re not getting along with. Maybe this Christmas would be a good time for reconciliation. He’d really like that.
- He likes it when you give. It’s fine to give to those from whom you expect something back, but He’s not real impressed with that. He likes it better when you give to someone who can’t return the favor. Read Luke 14.
- Share the love. If you know of anyone who won’t have a family this Christmas, invite them into yours. We know He likes that, because that’s what He did for us.
Those are just a few suggestions, but you get the idea. I bet you can think of lot’s more good things Jesus would like for His birthday this year.
Happy birthday, Jesus!