Where is your focus this Christmas season? As I write this, “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” are now behind us and now the shopping season is in full swing. Seasonal songs flood the radio airwaves and every store you enter. Decorations hang down light poles, over doorposts, and stretch as far as the eye can see. Families and friends arrange to gather and employees take extended time away from work to prepare for and celebrate the holiday.
With all the hustle and bustle it can be all too easy to forget the reason we actually celebrate Christmas in the first place. Christians all know the reason, but few give it much space in their hearts, let alone allow it to alter the way they live.
It’s easy to allow the rhythms of our culture to replace the rhythms of our Father. Celebrations and holidays are healthy things for our souls as long as we remember the reason we celebrate anything is to honor God. Holidays like Christmas and Easter remind us at regular intervals to celebrate the birth and resurrection of Christ. Had He never been born, He could never have died for our sins. Without His miraculous birth, we would have no hope of salvation.
The birth of Jesus is the ultimate gift to each of God’s children. I’m not certain where the tradition of giving gifts to one another began, but I am sure we have taken it far beyond the original intent. Gift-giving has become so extravagant and consuming we rarely stop and reflect about the real gift of the season. Celebrating Christ’s birth should be an opportunity to pause, reflect, breathe, and to give thanks to God for the gift He lavished on us. It’s not about bargains, shopping malls, free shipping or collector’s items. Christmas is all about Jesus.
I’m always torn at this time of year. On the one hand, people everywhere are exposed to songs about Jesus on an almost subconscious level. That’s a good thing, but it ultimately serves no purpose if they do not comprehend the meaning behind the words they hear. That’s where followers of Jesus come in. It is our duty to live differently, to love completely, and to reflect the character of God to all those with whom we come into contact. We must demonstrate our thankfulness for the gift of Jesus and our willingness to leave everything behind in order to worship Him.
As you go about your shopping and travelling this Christmas season, remember to take advantage of the time to reflect on the beauty and holiness of God. Don’t get caught up in the cultural side of the celebrations, but carve out new traditions that focus on the person of Jesus. Be still when others are busy. Seek Him when others are scurrying about town. Focus on Jesus while everyone else is frazzled and overwhelmed. Jesus is the only reason for the season. He’s the reason for everything. Don’t lose your focus. Don’t live like everyone else. Live your calling and commitment. Live as a disciple of Jesus.