With just a few days left until Christmas, I will soon find myself in a pile of wrapping paper, tape, boxes, and bags. Do you find it hard to keep Jesus the main thing at Christmas? I think we all struggle. December has become the busiest time of year: purchases, packages, office parties, school functions, kids/grandkids, family responsibilities, and travel plans. If you tack on any colds or flu then Christmas can be a headache! As you finish up your shopping and begin to hit the road, consider these 4 naughty list items to avoid this year and 1 nice choice.
Naughty Choice #1 – We make it external.
Never has there been as much behavioral change as there is from Black Friday on! We all want to keep the floodgates open. However, when it come to the heart behind the season, let us not forget that important emotion – Love. Love is the reason we celebrate. Love is the reason we can act this way. Let this season mean something. Let the gift exchanges mean something to you. Let Christmas soften your heart. The Pharisees were well-known for their outward appearance but inward stain.
Naughty Choice #2 – We make it professional.
I often remind my kids that Christmas is not only about the money they will get from different people in their lives. While that may be a reality, it becomes more than sport at times! Those in retail have to face you people each day. As a result, it becomes easy to be jaded. Others will give so they will receive. When we make Christmas more about the quality of the LOOK of the gift we walk dangerously close to this naughty line. Christmas is not business. Christmas is the heart of God spilling out into the world through the coos of a baby boy. Christmas is not just a time to make double wages. Christmas is family and love. The Scribes missed Jesus because they were too busy working and making money.
Naughty Choice #3 – We make it secular.
I am calling for a bit of moderation from ends of this spectrum. While some would ban Santa and claim him to be Satan (Just rearrange the letters), others embrace him in idolatry. I answered this here. I mention this only that Christmas has become big business and we can get caught up in the Griswold phenomenon that is lights, trees, and a show. We make it all about us and the entertainment of it all. We love the magic, lights, and joy but forget the real issues. The Sadducees were all about the culture. They missed Jesus because He wasn’t “cultural” enough.
Naughty Choice # 4 – We make it political.
Like baseball, Christmas is a national pastime. We have our traditions, right or wrong. My family makes cookies on Christmas Eve, plays games, and watches Polar Express. We have done this since the movie premiered. This will make our 10th year. You have your own traditions that you cling to dearly. Our traditions are coming under fire. Every year we see fights and litigation about using Christmas in phrases. If my saying Merry Christmas offends you, too bad. The ENTIRE point of this holiday is to celebrate Christ! However, if believers would put Christ back into their Christianity we wouldn’t have this mess. The Essenes missed Jesus because they were too caught up in the political minutia to see Him.
Nice Choice – Make it relational.
Born out of a desire to have a relationship with humanity, Jesus was conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit. God and humanity are separated by sin and those naughty choices. But in His love for you, He gave His only Son to fulfill the requirements of the law once for all. God did that for you. He gave His all. What have you given Him? He wants a loving, lasting relationship with you. Making Christmas relational means to focus on family more than stressing out over the food. Being relational means to seek forgiveness and redemption more than long-held grudges and angst. Being relational could mean spending a little less money and a little more time. You may think you can buy their affection now, but it will not last. Simeon and Anna saw Jesus because they were thinking relationally. Are you?