The Christmas Trade

Let me start this blog by being completely honest. I wanted to post this on Sunday but just couldn’t get it finished. I struggled with how I was going to write about what Christmas has become, but do it in the right way. In the beginning I had it all wrong. Society’s version of Christmas today made me mad, and that reflected in my writing. The words I used were bitter and not filled with love. God told me there was no way I could post that. What kind of message would that send? Not a good one. See God has no problem with me being upset over what Christmas has become. He does however have a problem when I let that anger turn into bitter writing and a blog that sounds more like a fuming Christian than a loving one. That being said I prayed, God worked on my heart, and together we present to you draft number seven about what’s happening with Christmas today.

 

For many people Christmas is their favorite time of the year. Friends and family come together after months or even years apart. There is laughter, happiness, beautiful lights and trees, good food, and a whole lot of relaxation. Now, while these things do happen around Christmas, they are not the reasons we celebrate. What has happened is we have traded the true meaning of Christmas for the byproducts and traditions and we have begun to celebrate and worship them instead.

 

What does that mean? Well, Christmas literally would not exist and could not exist today without Jesus Christ. It was created as a holiday in the 4th century to celebrate His birth as our savior. That was all it was, a simple birthday party. At the same time, the church needed a way for new converts to be able to bring some of their old winter solstice traditions with them when they became Christians so that they would not lose some of their heritage. So, it took the pagan traditions and shifted their focus away from their pagan roots and towards the birth of Christ. So yes the traditions of Christmas have pagan roots, but they exist now to remind us of Jesus, His birth, and what it means for us in the future. Well at least they used to. People have begun to enjoy these traditions so much, that they have pretty much disregarded Jesus all together. There aren’t adds or movies where little baby Jesus is the star, instead it is jolly old Santa Clause, born in 1930’s Coca-Cola ads who takes center stage. He simply has more appeal, and that is a problem. All of these traditions: the gifts to remind us that Jesus was the best gift of all, the lights to remember the brightest start in the sky that guided the magi, and even the carols which are supposed to spread the word of Jesus’ birth, have become the priorities. We’ve traded Jesus away for a bunch of empty traditions and we have worshipped them by putting our focus on them instead of Christ.

 

How could they be empty you ask? They bring us so much happiness this time of year. Well think about it this way. We always talk about how merry Christmas and the holidays are, but what exactly makes them so merry and jolly? Everyone has a different answer, the people, the gifts, the time together, or even just simple things like the decorations. But what happens when everyone leaves? What happens when the trees and lights come down and the decorations go back in the attic? Does that same happiness still flow through the house? Come March and April do those toys still bring the same level of joy and great big smiles to the faces of those who received them? I am willing to be that the answer is no to most of these questions. Why? Because I have been there myself. I know the joy brought by Christmas traditions does not last. I know the sadness that comes with taking down the tree and knowing that there is school the next day. I’ve experienced a toy becoming no longer fun to play with, it breaking, or me out growing it and giving it away. Those things don’t last. But there is a gift that does.

 

Here is a huge misconception about Christmas: once it is over it means nothing throughout the rest of the year. This could not be farther from the truth! Oh my goodness Christmas has everything to do with everything for the rest of the year and for the rest of our lives! This celebration is more than just the celebration of some important man’s birthday. It is a celebration of the birth of the Son of God. That is God came down in human form with one goal: to redeem man. In other words He was born so He could die. Wait what? Yeah you heard that right. He came to die. Sure Jesus came and taught us valuable lessons, but if that was all He did then He was just a prophet. Man did not need another prophet then, and he does not need another prophet now. He needs and has always needed a savior, and that is why Christ was born. He came born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was crucified dead and buried, and on the third day He rose from the grave. Why? Because we are all sinners. You, me, our pastors, our politicians, our doctors, everyone is a sinner in need of a savior. Christmas celebrates the birth of that savior. Christmas celebrates the day in which God came to earth as a little helpless baby to live in our world and to ultimately change our world. Knowing that should bring joy to Christmas and to every single day of the year. Knowing that we have a God who loves us enough to send His one and only son to die for our sins is quite amazing and should be our focus on Christmas. We’ve been given the gift of a savior.

 

Is trading that worth it? Is the latest gizmo or gadget worth more than the birth of Christ? Now I’m not saying that if you don’t celebrate the true meaning of Christmas you are going to Hell, but what I am saying is that how we celebrate Christmas shows the nature of our hearts. What are we concerned with? There is nothing intrinsically bad with enjoying family time, pretty lights, and great gifts, but if we begin to value those more than we value the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ our savior the new are in trouble. If we worship traditions by giving them too much of our attention, we are in trouble. If we try and take Christ out of Christmas, we are in trouble. I believe that that trouble has begun.

 

As Christians we have not done our job in spreading the true meaning of Christmas. Think about it. How many ads on TV have you seen mention Jesus? How many Christmas movies mention Jesus? How many mall santas remind little children that it is better to give than to receive? (Which by the way that is a bible verse and not some genius concept concocted by man. Acts 20:35) We absolutely cannot sit around and blame the world all we want. Whose duty is it to tell the world about the birth, life, and death of Christ? It’s the job of Christians. Think back to Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth. After Jesus was born, angels appeared to a group of shepherds, and they told the shepherds that their savior had been born in Bethlehem. Needing no further prompting, the men ran to see for themselves, and what a sight they found. They looked into the eyes of the baby who would one day free man from the bondage of sin. So what did they do next? Well if they had acted like Christians today (and if I’m honest, like how I acted when I started writing this blog) they would have walked the streets and scorned or laughed at all of the people who had no idea what was happening at that little inn down the street. But that’s not at all what they did. They went and told anyone who would listen about the great sight that they had just seen. For them it was so wonderful that they could not help but spread the great news like wildfire. Then they returned to the manger and praised God for all that they had seen and heard. (Luke 2:8-20)

 

We as Christians should learn from the shepherds. Who are we to sit around and get upset that people are trampling over our holiday and trying to take Christ out of Christmas? We are the ones who are letting them. If people want to take Christ out of Christmas it is because they don’t know the glory of the real story. They don’t know that we give gifts as a symbol that God gave us the greatest gift of all, His precious son as a sacrifice for our sins. They don’t know the joy of Christ and how He doesn’t come just once a year to bring joy, but that He is with us year round with that same joy. So Christians let’s go! Let’s stop being offended that people are trying to take Christ out of Christmas and let’s show them why you just can’t take Him out. Let’s not celebrate traditions aimlessly Instead let’s celebrate the birth of Christ and the gift that He is. We know the power of that gift and the salvation that the gift will ultimately bring, so let’s go and share it with the world. Let’s stop trading Jesus for traditions.

 

P.S. If you liked this or know someone who might need it please pass it on. You never know what a simple share and read could do in someone else’s life. Thanks and God bless.

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