“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.”
1 Peter 1:3-4
The last time I posted here, it wasn’t even Halloween yet. Now, Christmas is rapidly approaching.
My understanding of the meaning of Christmas has changed over the years. As a kid, though I was aware by age 5 or 6 that the holiday was in observance of the birth of Jesus, Christmas was about Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Charlie Brown, and presents, presents, presents.
Now, I have to admit to you, 40-some-odd years later, I still love Santa, Rudolph, Frosty, and good ol’ Charlie Brown. When viewed in the proper context, each of these symbols can teach us something about Christmas – or, at least, joyful living.
Santa Claus: Finding joy through giving (Acts 20:35)
Rudolph: Accepting and finding value in misfits (Matthew 20:16)
Frosty: Living in the present (Matthew 6:34)
Charlie Brown: Seeking and recognizing the true meaning of Christmas (Luke 2:8-14)
Here in the United States, retailers have all but commandeered Christmas and slowly corrupted its message. With endless “Black Friday” sales, we are constantly reminded to, “Buy! Buy! Buy!” The fate of the nation’s economy is in your wallet.
It has irked me as well that Christmas slowly has been genericized. For example, I recently heard a commercial that said, “Coming this holiday.”
When is “this”?
You mean, the holiday formerly known as “Christmas”?
Shhh! Don’t say that too loudly. Someone might hear.
I mention this because I have recently changed my mind on what I once perceived as an insult to Christianity. How recent? Since I started writing this post, as a matter of fact.
Around the time I made the mistake of getting married to someone I did not love, I got caught up in the annual shopping frenzy. For me, “Christmas” devolved into racking up thousands of dollars in purchases each year, most of which I “covered” with credit cards. While those days are over, I am literally still paying for them.
My point is, let them have their “holiday sales” and “holiday shopping.” Have your fun, too, within reason, but there’s no need to attach Christ’s name to any of that.
Christmas is about the birth of our Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. We can’t even comprehend God, much less His power. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. He is present everywhere and every time all at once. He is the embodiment of love. God has all of this and more than I could ever hope to describe.
This same God chose to come to Earth in a physical sense over two thousand years ago, in the form of His Son, as a mere human – one of us, yet not. The Son of God became the Son of Man.
According to Genesis 1:27, we are created in the image of God. However, we are imperfect reflections of God. He is holy. We are sinful. Jesus, even in human form, is the perfect image of God, for He is God.
Matthew 2:1-12 tells us that wise men brought the young Jesus gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts were of value to humans of the time, but of what value were such trinkets to the Son of God?
Today, we still give one another trinkets at Christmas. Oh, sure, the actual items slightly change over the years. Today, they might be a gold necklace, AirPods Pro, and a Yeti mug.
But none of these gifts, then or now, have any intrinsic value. They have no eternal value.
Let me repeat, they are absolutely worthless.
Even a handmade gift truly crafted out of love has no value in the item itself, but, rather, in the eternal quality of love (God) associated with it. See 1 John 4:16.
During His life, death, and life on Earth, Jesus gave gifts of eternal value. His gifts were crafted of the purest love. Perfect, eternal love. His gifts included His sermons, His perfect example to us (what we attempt to emulate today with “Christlike behavior”), unconditional love, joy, peace, and the Holy Spirit.
The most incredible gift, forged out of His love, His blood, and His body, Jesus ever gave us is our salvation. Despite the enormous weight of our sins, He made us right with God for all of time.
No other gift could ever top that one. No holiday sale could ever provide a better deal. No holiday shopping spree could ever compete.
Here’s the thing about a gift, though. It doesn’t serve its purpose unless you accept it.
Jesus has already bought and paid for your salvation. No refunds or exchanges. All you have to do is unwrap it by accepting Him (John 3:16).
If you do not yet know Jesus, will you pray with me to accept His gift?
Thank You for Jesus. Thank You for the eternal gifts He has offered the world. Please forgive my sins, including those I do not see.
Lord, I accept Jesus in my heart. He is Your Son and my Savior. He took human form and died for me and my sins on the cross. He made me right with You for all of time. No matter what mistakes I have made or will make, He has already covered all of them with His body and His blood. On the third day after His death, He was resurrected. He has defeated death such that I, too, will have eternal life. I give my sins to Jesus. I lift up my hopes to Jesus. I give my fears to Jesus. I am His for all of time. I accept His gift. I accept His unconditional love.
In the precious name of Jesus I pray.
Merry Christmas, everyone! May Jesus fill your days with joy, love, and peace.