In 1965 a traditional seasonal cartoon was released on TV: “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
The program depicts an 8-year-old boy named Charlie Brown who is trying to understand the meaning of Christmas. Yet he searches for meaning in all the wrong places. He searches for it in his friend’s understanding of Christmas, directing the local Christmas play and even a decorating contest involving his dog. Eventually his friend Linus intervenes, and in a memorable scene, Linus recites Luke 2:1-14 in an empty theater.
Today in the 21st century, we have the same issue.
We’re trying to understand Christmas in all the wrong places. We are looking for it in everything but Christ himself. It’s easy to get lost in the “rituals” and traditions of Christmas that we forget what it is really about.
Christmas is about remembering that the purpose for Jesus coming to us is to rescue us from our sin and to show us our need for him in our everyday lives, including Christmas.
Sin isn’t necessarily that we do bad things, but it is an issue in preferring creation over the Creator. Since the fall of mankind as sin entered the world, we’ve traded the things of God for what seemingly resembles him.
Oftentimes during the Christmas season, I begin to get worried about the gifts that I need to get out to people, and slowly, I become a “people pleaser” instead of putting my confidence in the fact that I am already loved and accepted in Jesus.
Yet in my wrestling with wanting to be liked and accepted by others, I’m reminded that all I need is Jesus for everlasting joy and that my worth is truly found in his goodness, beyond my insufficiencies.
When I am confident in my worth in Christ and that everything I truly deserved because of sin was taken with Christ on the cross, I can look beyond myself to love and serve others.
The reason why we need Christmas is because beyond the gifts and cheer that we experience in the holiday season; our hearts are never fully happy nor satisfied unless they are rooted in God’s gift to us, Jesus.
This is no ordinary “Christmas present;” it is the ultimate Christmas gift.
We see in Luke 2:10-11, that an angel appears to low class, socially unregarded shepherds and says, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (ESV).
The angel’s response to our sin is that a Savior has come to bring us back to God. We no longer have to live separated from God; rather he made a way for us to be reconciled to him.
In response how do we live centered on Jesus during this Christmas season?
1. Be honest about where you are with God.
Often times, the feeling of getting tasks done during the holiday season comes out of a motive to impress others. God’s grace covers our self-centered need to impress other when we understand that our inadequacies are adequately sufficed in how loved we are by Christ on the cross.
When we are honest with God, we tell him that we don’t honor, love or treasure him as we ought, but Jesus is here to take our sin and give us himself.
2. Remember the gospel.
Tim Keller said, “The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A to Z of Christianity.” The gospel is for every day, including Christmas. Remind yourself that in the midst of having friends, family, and gifts on Christmas Day, that these are all simply “appetizers” on Earth compared to the feast waiting for us in Heaven. A feast of exuberant joy and fellowship that Jesus purchased for his family on the cross.
3. Celebrate with others.
Sorrow and suffering are very real things in our world, yet the passage says, “Good news of great joy.” Joy in the Lord is always uncontainable. It doesn’t mean you must always have a smile on your face; but it is an invitation to know that God is with us even in our darkest days.
Buying and wrapping gifts, singing carols, enjoying time with family, or helping the poor and needy are no longer about putting on “cheap smiles” and “fake laughs;” but it is a reminder that God is still pursuing us on days where we may feel that he is so far from us.
Amidst the distractions, checklists, and expectations, we are invited to come back to be satisfied in Jesus, the true meaning of Christmas.
We have sinned against God, yet on Christmas Day, God made a way by sending us his son. Living in love with Jesus and being satisfied in him brings the glory to God and in turn, he gives us the joy we need.
Christmas truly is all about Christ.
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