HAPPY X-MAS: What is the value of X?
As we enter the Christmas season, neighborhoods will begin to decorate their houses and lawns for the holiday season. Some lawns will be lit up with Santa, Snowmen and Reindeer while others will display manger scenes and angels. The day after Thanksgiving will mark the beginning of another hectic Christmas shopping season as shoppers will get up at ridiculously early hours in the morning to catch the first sales. You and I know how it is so easy to get caught up in the frenzy of the season. As Christians, we will try to keep our focus in the right place and repeat that same cliché that we do every year in that “Jesus is the reason for the season” but do we really act like it? The Baby Jesus is recognized in plays and nativity scenes but is there room for Him in our lives?
Every year preachers and writers – me included – center themes in urging us to keep Christ in Christmas. It seems that each year the speed of the Christmas season increases in its intensity. Instead of a time to enjoy the season, we become busier than at any other time of the year. The more time that passes since Christ’s birth, the more watered down and over-commercialized Christmas becomes. The primary reason is that in the rush to purchase the perfect gift, many fail to accept the most important gift they could receive.
You will notice that some people will even decorate their windows with the phrase “Merry X-mas” to save room or as some way to achieve a measure of political correctness. Many people want to have the season without the reason. What value does Christ have in all of the activities and busyness of the season? Sadly many are offended by any references made about Christ. Santa Claus gets more attention than the birth of the Savior of all mankind. If there was a poll given, I am sure that Santa Claus would get the majority of the popularity votes. The truth is that our value of Christ is increasingly being dictated by the poll of public opinion. Once again this year we will probably hear of someone filing a lawsuit to protest a nativity scene at a school or in front of city hall. They will cry out about the separation of Church and State but neglect that Christ came to eliminate the separation between God and us.
Christ didn’t come to us with a bunch of fanfare. The King of Kings came to earth as a baby to a poor family wrapped in a bundle described as swaddling clothes. They couldn’t even afford to stay in a King’s Palace. Instead, they were forced to lodge in a dirty stable. Now, that certainly puts a shadow over those who preach about prosperity doesn’t it? He’s the Son of God so surely He would have the best, right? But He didn’t. He came as a real person to a people that needed a Savior, not an earthly king. From His humble beginning, Christ went on to dramatically change the spiritual condition of the world forever by offering a plan of salvation through the grace of God instead of the works of man. Christmas is more than celebrating the birth of Jesus but the victory over the enemy of our souls.
We are so busy that the Christmas season passes quickly and we’re left scratching our heads that another year has passed us by. In America, the Christmas season is dominated by shopping. We have to find the right gifts for the right people. There are Christmas parties to attend. We have them at work, we have them at church and we have them with friends. We must also make time to be with family. There is certainly nothing wrong with spending the holidays with our families but it can contribute to the overwhelming demands of the season. In the end, there is little “holiday” involved in the holidays. We may not have to go to our jobs but it is still work. The busyness of it all leaves little room for Christ.
Jesus is no longer the baby in the manger. He is our dearest friend and the ONLY advocate with the Father. Without Him we would have no one to represent us before an almighty God. His value far exceeds anything we could act out in a play or the carols that we sing. When we sing “Joy To The World” we fail to understand the words of that song. It’s just another song that we sing. We spend little time in the season to fully recognize the reason. In Luke 10:38-42 Jesus visited with Mary and Martha. They were both pleased to have Him as their guests. Martha worked feverishly to clean the house and cook a meal. On the other hand, Mary was aware of the importance of spending time with Jesus. Instead of helping Martha in the kitchen, Mary simply sat at the feet of Jesus and enjoyed His company. Eventually Martha noticed this and got frustrated that she was the only one doing any work. She asked the Lord if He would get Mary to help her in all that she was doing. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha you are careful and troubled about many things but only one thing is important and Mary has chosen that part.” There was absolutely nothing wrong with Martha’s hospitality. However, her priorities were out of order. She was so concerned with the work of serving that she missed the importance of taking time to sit at Jesus’ feet. Isn’t it odd how we can get so busy in doing the Lord’s work that we fail to actually spend time with Him? The world needs to see in us that Christ is more than just a holiday season or a religion.
When Christmas Day arrives, how much of our focus is truly on Christ? Instead of taking a holiday from our devotion time, we should make time to thank and praise Him for sacrificing Himself for us. Certainly there is nothing wrong with the traditional ways we celebrate Christmas. We enjoy the lights, trees, gifts, family and food. However, when these things overshadow the real meaning of the season then it is time for us to reexamine our priorities. It always amazes me that when Christmas falls on or near Sunday that we even cancel our church services.
Seriously, let us all take some time this Christmas season to adjust our focus. If we find ourselves spending more times stressing out over shopping, cooking, stocking stuffers and running around like Martha, let us find the place that Mary was. Without Christ there would be no Christmas. Without Christ there would be no hope.