Imagine throwing a birthday party for a friend, inviting hundreds of guests, preparing an abundant supply of food, and decorating for hours on end, without ever inviting him or her to the party. That would be crazy!
Yet year after year, many of us celebrate the birth of Christ without acknowledging the person for which this meaningful holiday was intended. The sights and sounds of Christmas surround us: from fully decorated malls and downtown plazas to television specials and theatrical productions. However, the name of Jesus is hardly spoken in this environment.
Sure, we may attend church once or twice during December. We may even recite the second chapter of Luke on Christmas morning, but how often do we thank God for the amazing gift He gave us over 2,000 years ago? How often are our lives a display of this gratitude?
To some, Christmas is nothing more than tradition and ritual-an opportunity to stock up on the latest gift ideas and sample all varieties of food. The holiday season simply involves one-day sales at the mall, overpriced eggnog, and images of flying reindeer. It's an occasion to take a few days vacation from work and catch up on the latest movie rentals.
It's easy to get pulled into the festivities of Christmas without realizing the significance of this precious day. December 25th isn't celebration just for the sake of celebrating; it is the day that we observe the birth of the Son of God-the Savior of mankind.
The more time that passes since Christ's birth, the more watered down and over-commercialized Christmas becomes. Why? Many have failed to accept the most important gift they could ever receive: Jesus Christ.
From the beginning of time, God prepared the exact day and time of Christ's arrival. He knew mankind would rebel. Sin blanketed the world, as it still does today. Before Christ, however, man's only hope was to work his way to heaven by following set rules and regulations. We were in dire need of a Savior. God provided One.
In the Old Testament, Isaiah foretold Christ's coming: "For a child will be born to us . . . and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor" (Isaiah 9:6). Micah, as well, wrote of Jesus' coming incarnation: "But as for you Bethlehem . . . from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity" (Micah 5:2).
The birth of Christ had been anticipated for centuries. Many had spoken and written of His coming, yet this extraordinary event occurred in the presence of only two, Mary and Joseph, and within the simple confines of a stable.
From these humble beginnings, Christ went on to dramatically change the spiritual landscape of the world forever, offering salvation through the grace of God rather than the effort of man. He endured torment, humiliation, and unthinkable pain to reconcile us, unworthy sinners, to His Father, God.
Yet when we celebrate on December 25th, how much of our focus is truly on Him? Do we thank and praise Him for sacrificing Himself for us? Do we glorify and worship Him for being born in such unsanitary, meager conditions-all so that we could one day have the opportunity to experience His presence in heaven? Or is Christmas merely another opportunity to spend more time focusing on our worldly concerns, such as food and entertainment?
Certainly, there is nothing wrong with the traditional ways we celebrate Christmas: lights, trees, gift-wrapped presents and plentiful food. However, when these festivities overshadow the real meaning of the season-the birth of Christ-then it is time for us to reexamine our priorities.
Where is Christ on your Christmas to-do list? Is He just part of a one-hour service on Christmas Eve, or do you make it a point to stay centered on Jesus in your day-to-day life throughout the season-and, more importantly, the entire year?
Take some time this Christmas season to readjust your focus. If you find yourself spending more time stressing over recipes, shopping sprees, stocking stuffers, and guest bedrooms than truly celebrating Jesus' birth, then ask God to center your mindset on the true significance of Christmas.
Without Christ in your Christmas, how can you be merry?