If you’ve been around a church community for any length of time, you have probably learned to just expect certain things around the Christmas season. Dozens of shiny decorations adorning anything and everything, a special Christmas production put on by the church staff and ministry volunteers, and that one guy who thinks that wearing a Santa hat to church is both witty and stylish, whom no one has the heart to confront.
Most of these things we just take with a grain of salt and shrug off. That’s just Christmas, right? Sure is! But along the lines of those things we often witness and dismiss as Christmas behaviors, there is one thing that has never really sat right with me.
Each year, you’ll more than likely have to sit through several different sermons about remembering what Christmas is really about. Inevitably we will hear pastors talk to us about the story of the birth of Jesus, how humble his beginning [and entire life] was, and how we spend way too much money on Christmas presents. They encourage us to truly remember Jesus on Christmas day and to be his light to our families and those in need.
Now, I don’t mean to berate or insult the pastors who preach these sermons. In fact, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that they have only the best intentions and truly wish to enhance the spiritual richness of those who hear their sermons. But, I can’t help but notice that my Christmases never really change.
Even after hearing all those sermons, I still go home to my parents’ places. I still buy gifts that I’ve put basically no thought into. I still receive way more than I give. I still eat enough food to feed a homeless family. I still do nothing but think about myself...
But this year, I decided to do something different. I decided to look past the layers of tradition, swarms of rabid shoppers, and millions of sugarey treats. I decided to even look past the Christmas story itself to try to get a bigger picture, and ask the question, “What was God up to?”
No less than changing the world, of course!
God sent Jesus into our world to give us a chance to redeem ourselves of our sins and experience his infinite love. He reached out in a way that changed the dynamic of every relationship that every person on Earth had with him. What God did that day forever changed how we as people would approach him.
It seems to me that if we really want to strip away the seemingly insignificant parts of Christmas and honestly make great examples of our faith to honor our father this season, we’d be wise to start with his example.
What are some ways you can change your life drastically? What are some ways you can permanently enhance the lives of those around you?
- Is there a family member you have been fueding with for years? Maybe this Christmas would be a good time to extend a peace offering.
- Has God been tugging at your heart to start a ministry to help those in need, but you’ve just not gotten up the faith or motivation to do it? Now is the time.
- Have you been rationalizing a selfish behavior that has been preventing a brother or sister from getting too close to you? Perhaps a good gift would be your undivided attention.
Needless to say, the examples could go on forever. But the more I’ve searched for God’s heart this Christmas, the more it has seemed to me that truly life-changing New Year’s resolutions are infinitely closer to the steps we should be taking than anything we actually do to celebrate the birth of our savior.