Every year as December approaches the call goes out among Christians to remember the “real reason for Christmas.” As television specials about Rudolph, Frosty and The Grinch are joined with songs about rocking around the Christmas tree and grandma getting run over by reindeer, it is easy to feel like Jesus’ birth gets lost in all the commotion and competition this time of year. As we approach Christmas, I would like to encourage each of us to think deeply about the real reason we celebrate Christmas and not settle for lesser motivations.
Don’t Settle for Consumerism
It is easy for Christmas to become about the gifts. When we are young, Christmas can be all about what we are going to get. I remember not being able to sleep past 5:00am on Christmas morning as a kid because of the anticipation of what I was going to get under the tree. As adults, Christmas can become all about the stress of making sure we meet the required social obligations with our gifts, while blowing our kids or grandkids minds with the greatest gift they have ever received.
In our minds we say Christmas is all about Jesus, but in our actions, it can seem like it’s all about the gifts. It is important for us to make sure that gifts never become the center of our celebration around the Christmas holiday. Christmas is all about a great gift, but it isn’t one that is found under the tree.
Don’t Settle for Sentimentality
It is often communicated in TV specials and songs on the radio that Christmas is about a special feeling. A warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from a roaring fire, a cup of hot chocolate and having your family together. When sentimental feelings become the focus, Christmas is said to have its own spirit and the feelings that come with it become what is most important about the holiday. While we should enjoy the amazing feelings that come with gathered family and a cup of really-good hot chocolate, we should never allow having sentimental feelings to be what Christmas is about. Christmas is so much more important than sentimentality and good feelings.
Don’t Settle for Tradition
Many of our families have wonderful Christmas traditions. For some it is the gathering on Christmas Eve that has taken place for years and years. For other families it is the eating of certain foods on Christmas morning. Traditions are wonderful ways for our families to bond and spend time together, but they can never become the focus of Christmas. Christmas should never become about participating in and passing on family traditions. The real meaning of Christmas is so much bigger than any tradition.
Christmas is About the Gospel
As followers of Jesus, every December we remember that Christmas isn’t about gifts, sentimentality or tradition, but that Christmas is about the gospel. Matthew 1:21 says that Jesus came to earth to “save people from their sins.” In Luke 2:14 the angels declare that Jesus’ coming is to bring peace with God for those who please Him. Our focus during the Christmas season isn’t on the cuteness of a baby but on the purpose of that baby. He is Immanuel – God with Us – who gave His life so that we might be set free from penalty and practice of our sin. The real reason for Christmas drives our attention to the cross and the empty grave, because it’s all about the gospel.
Christmas is a Great Chance to Share the Gospel
The Christmas season provides unique opportunities to share the gospel with others. I was getting my hair cut last week and while I was talking to the lady who was cutting my hair, she mentioned that she was probably going to spend the night watching Christmas specials on TV. I told her that my favorite Christmas special was the Charlie Brown Christmas special because it does such a great job of hitting the heart of Christmas. She asked me what I meant, and we spent the next few minutes talking about Jesus coming to earth and its significance in saving me from my sins. It turns out that she was a believer and she shared her own story of how God has saved her from a life of sin and selfishness. This conversation flowed out of the Christmas season and it could have happened with a fellow believer or a non-believer.
Last week, my wife bought gifts for a handful of neighbors that we haven’t met yet with the hope that we might get a chance to meet them, serve them and share about Jesus with them. Christmas provides all kinds of wonderful conversation connections that allow us to talk about the heart of Christmas. There is nothing we want to share more than the hope of salvation that is ours because of Christmas.
How will you share the gospel of Christmas with others in the coming days?Topics: Christmas