Monday, December 23, 2013

The Truth About Christmas

It's Christmas Eve and we are coming to the end of another Christmas season. I hope everyone has finished their shopping and are ready to just enjoy the holiday with their family. As Christians we all know that this holiday is set aside to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but how many of us truly keep that as our focus? We like to quote the catchy mantra "Jesus is the reason for the season" but truth is there are many other 'reasons' trying to steal our focus.

If we go to the malls or look at the advertisements we get the message that this season is about 'stuff'. It's about finding that 'perfect gift for everyone on your list'. This gives us the message that without the perfect gift our Christmas is a failure. We tend to get distracted by the commercialism and shopping forgetting the real reason for the celebration. Forgetting that we are not celebrating the gifts that are under our tree but the one perfect gift given by the Father, namely the Son. This distraction causes the average American to spend $900 on gifts for their family. This is of course fine if you have $900 to spend...

Then after our visit to the mall we drive around and we see all of the Christmas decorations. We may see an occasional nativity scene but mostly we see lights, Santa Claus, snowmen, and candy canes. We begin to think that this is a holiday about decor and about a fat man with a long white beard and a red suit. All of a sudden we are distracted from the true story by a fairy tale, a fictional character. Sometimes we may even associate Christmas as much or more with Santa as we do with Jesus. This is dangerous as it causes us to associate truth with fiction and can make it difficult for us to differentiate between them. 

Finally we get home and begin watching some of our favorite Christmas movies. We watch movies like "It's a Wonderful Life", "A Christmas Carol", and "Family Man". In these movies we see the main character distracted by the materialism and money and forgetting the 'true' meaning of Christmas. In the end they tell us that Christmas is about spending time with our family. We watch this and think that this is a much nobler reason than any other's we have found and strive to simply spend time with our family on Christmas. Still we are forgetting the true reason behind the holiday. 

The Bible tells us clearly what the reason is. Isaiah predicts the birth of Jesus in chapter nine verse six: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." We see it clearly in the Word of God but according to a poll by USA Today only 59% of Americans are planning on attending a religious service on Christmas Eve or Christmas and even less (36%) are planning on reading the Christmas story from the Bible. This means that almost half of Americans will likely not be reminded of the true story of Christmas. However this is not the thing that stuck out to me the most form the aforementioned article. What stuck out to me the most is that in their poll they found that the majority of people treat this holiday in the same way their families did when they were growing up. This means that if their families put an emphasis on the Biblical story then they are much more likely to do as well. That puts the responsibility on us as parents. Our kids are paying attention even if they don't act like it. They may act bored when you pull out the Bible and start reading and they may seem impatient when you insist on praying before starting the meal. But they are paying attention and more than likely they will adapt similar practices when they have a family of their own.