Unmistakably the Christmas season has arrived, making its first appearance in the middle of October (just as we were buying 435 pieces of Halloween candy for $20). It is simply not possible to ignore this time of year as everywhere our sight is filled with all things Christmas and our hearing is overwhelmed with sounds of Christmas.
Christmas Past—Its Memories. The Christmas season brings a boat load of memories into the hearts and minds of most people, especially when being “home for the holiday” was a key ingredient. These memories of Christmas past may be pleasant (though often glamorized a little) because they recall some wonderfully pleasant times. But for some, Christmas memories can be a little painful as they recall what was not true for them or the disappointments that came with that day. (I still remember the Christmas when the new bicycle I wanted never did make it to the Christmas tree!). For many, the depictions of Christmas time as seen on the Hallmark channel, or the Norman Rockwell paintings, simply do not reflect their personal experiences. I can recall several times, when we were well over a thousand miles from home and that the song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” hit an emotional nerve. Overall, I look back on Christmas past and the memories are good ones. However, for good or for bad, Christmas time really is one of the most emotional of times in the calendar year, and for some the season is downright depressing.
Christmas Present—Things Do Change. As the years fly by, life changes occur whether we like it or not. And that includes Christmas too. Children grow up, some family members are no longer with us, old friends are no longer geographically close, and, of course, Christmas trees are priced ridiculously high. But change can be good. Many believers faced with changes from Christmas past, develop a clearer focus on Christmas as the coming of the God-man, the Savior into this world. Christmas songs which tell of “God and sinner reconciled” and “in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light” take on fresh and powerful meaning to the heart and soul. The believer, in Christmas present, is keenly aware that he is much, much closer to Jesus’ second coming than he is to the first coming. Christmas today adjusts the thinking from the baby Jesus to the King Jesus. And while we can very much enjoy the blessings that come to us at this time of year, one eye is looking heavenward as we remember that “our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
As we actively live in Christmas present, there are some matters to consider.
- RESIST THE CULTURE. It is fairly obvious to believers that our secular culture has hijacked the Christmas season, making it quite secular. Each year the “celebration” leaves Jesus out more than it did the year before. Nativity scenes are replaced with Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, Santa, the Grinch and others that are not even remotely connected with Luke 2 and Matthew 1; such as Sponge Bob, dragons (though Satan is depicted as a dragon in Revelation 12), elves, penguins and “happy holiday” signs. “Deck the halls with advertising, ‘tis the season for merchandising” has become the dominant theme song of the season. And while all this is true, we can resist it starting with our own families. The younger generations of believers need to be reminded of the magnificent truths that this season declares. We know that the believer’s family is not immune from being caught up in the cultural activities to the point where lip service only is given to the wonderful truths of Christmas; that God did the incredible thing of becoming a human being so the He could die, and once and for all solve the sin problem for us; that eternal life (which is the life of God Himself, John 17) can be ours; and that our best life is ahead of us when the Lord Jesus returns and restores and enhances everything that was lost back there in the Garden of Eden. Verbally and in writing we can remind them of the awesome truths of Christmas. And beyond our families are those who need to “escapes from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:26). We would be wise not to forget that the Christmas season is a key skirmish in the war between God and Satan for the souls of people. And since it is called “CHRISTmas”, this time of the year finds some doors open just a little for sharing of the truth about Jesus. Perhaps we should be a little more active and to ask the Lord to assist us in communicating through pen or word to those who do not know Jesus.
- STAY OUT OF DEBT. According to a very recent statistic, the American consumer has raised personal debt to a level never seen before. Individual debt (this is not the USA national debt of 33 trillion) has risen to 1.2 trillion dollars. This is looking primarily at credit card debt and buying stuff on time. The Apostle Paul’s statement to “owe nothing to anyone” (Rom. 12:8) was true in ancient times and it holds true today, as does Proverbs 22:7 which conveys the inconvenient truth that the “borrower becomes the lender’s slave”. This lender goes by a number of names including American Express and Visa. And while believers might wish to make someone happy, going against biblical financial principles never really works out well. Spending money you don’t have to bring 10 minutes of happiness (maybe) is not a good operating principle. Rarely is going into debt at Christmas justifiable.
- BE GENEROUS. If legitimate opportunities arise during this season of the year to bless others, then do it if you are able. However, keep in mind that someone’s need is not necessarily something the believer must address. Since whatever resources we have as believers really belongs to our Lord Jesus, then as good stewards we should seek His direction on what we do with His funds. These good deeds of generous giving brigs glory to the Father (Matt. 5:16).
Christmas Future…Going Home. There is no record in the New Testament of the church celebrating Christmas. We can only guess if they ever did. Nor do we know if our loved ones who are in heaven with the Lord and the angels celebrate Christmas. If they do, of course, there is no Rudolph, Santa, Little Drummer Boy (much less penguins and Sponge Bob) as part of the celebration. But when we are all “home” with the Lord, will we celebrate the Incarnation? I am inclined to believe we will. In the Old Testament, God established holidays and times of remembrance for the nation of Israel. It was to help their memories and bring to the forefront God’s grace and goodness. In the New Testament, Christ ordained “the Lord’s Supper” in order that the Church might remember His death and resurrection, “until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). Passover was set aside and the Lord’s Supper replaced it. Is it not likely that since the Lord’s Supper will be set aside, it will be replaced with an amazing celebration of the Incarnation? I think so. After all, we are in the Father’s house (John 14:1-3) with the Lord because Jesus was born which led to His death and resurrection. The result of that was the restoration of all things and the reconciliation of mankind back to the Lord God. That is something to celebrate AND WE WILL FOR CERTAIN BE HOME FOR THE HOLIDAY.