I have a confession to make. In years past, I have been guilty of serving the god of Christmas instead of the Christ who is Christmas. And what’s worse, is I have allowed my children to witness that.
Since I was a child, I have loved Christmas. The lights, decorations, traditions, gifts, family gatherings, parades – I love it all! It’s magnificent and memorable, but it can also become a major distraction. In a world filled with evil, Christmas still remains the time when people’s hearts seem to be the softest; however, sadly, many times it’s Christians who have the worst attitudes throughout the season and display characteristics completely opposite of Christ. Jesus has every right to look down from heaven during Christmas and say, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Matthew 15:8).
December is the most awaited month of the year, yet it passes in an instant because our schedules are packed. We hustle to make purchases and attend parades, parties, and programs; before we know it, the day is gone and we’ve barely spent time with our families. We struggle to get everything on our children’s wish lists and give them a Christmas “fit for a king”, barely even making time to read them the story of our Lord and King. We buy senseless gifts for people as a means of marking a name off a list, not as a gesture of love. We tend to only give presents within our circles, never even thinking to look beyond them to the people who are lost or truly in need.
We fail to share God’s Gift to the world because we are too worried about the gifts under our tree. We neglect being the hands and feet of Jesus to a lost and dying world because we are slaves to a schedule; we are merely spinning our wheels if we are only bringing food to church parties and family gatherings. Our world hungers for the Bread of Life, but we are too busy living by our calendars and staying within our comfort zones.
It’s also amazing to me that as a society we make no more money in the month of December than the rest of the year, but we spend like we’ve hit the lottery, driving us into even more debt as we start a new year. However, the Father of Lies whispers to us to go ahead and make those purchases … because it’s Christmas.
He tells us that our kids deserve those high dollar gifts and must have them … because it’s Christmas.
He tells us that even though we are exhausted, we can fit in more parties … because, after all, it’s Christmas, and we should socialize and bring good cheer.
We stress over gifts and push and shove to get the right one, and if we don’t get it, we let people know how we feel about it since we need that gift … because it’s Christmas.
We happily hang signs all around our homes representing Santa Claus saying “We Believe,” as Satan laughs and rejoices at the fact he has subtly deterred us and kept us silent about the One in whom we should truly believe and boast about.
Unbeknownst to us, while we were running this way and that and fretting over meaningless gifts that will all burn one day, we have been serving an idol and teaching our kids that’s simply the way it’s supposed to be … because it’s Christmas.
My husband and I realized our Christmas had become out of control last year when we didn’t even have time for some of our own family traditions within our home. As we were hurriedly trying to appease everyone and attend every event, our own family was robbed of the joy Christmas brings.
We also realized that even though we don’t discuss Santa Claus much in our home, our children were being so influenced by the world and the commercialism of Christmas that they began to place faith in Santa rather than their Savior.
Our greatest eye-opener occurred after our celebrations were over and all the presents had been opened. Our children looked around at the gifts they had been given and innocently asked, “What’s next?”
They weren’t even content. That was our breaking point. As parents, we were thankful and excited about our gifts and proud that people showed love to our children by giving them gifts, but we were left unfulfilled, disappointed, and ashamed that we had succumbed to the god of Christmas and unintentionally misled our children.
For a year, we wrestled with how to simplify our Christmas season and teach our children correctly. Finally, we made the decision to significantly scale back on activities as well as gifts. We absolutely love to give our children gifts, just as God loves to give His children gifts, but our boys needed to learn that Christmas is not about them and that “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17, NIV), not from the North Pole.
Our family also made a plan to use the Keep Christ in Christmas bracelets from AFA as a witnessing tool. It has been our mission to wear one and share one through the month of December, and our goal is to share the love of Jesus with 100 people before His birthday. We have kept a record of how many bracelets we have given and who we have shared Jesus’ love with. The boys have faithfully lifted each one up in prayer every day. We have seen a spiritual maturity and an excitement like never before within our family this Christmas. What a treasure it has been to witness our young sons eagerly give bracelets and intentionally share their faith with postal workers, peers, cashiers, and perfect strangers. “My cup runneth over,” and “I have no greater joy than to hear my children walk in truth” (Psalm 23:5; 3 John 1:4).
This year, more than ever, I am so thankful that God sent His precious Son to save a wretch like me. I am grateful for second chances and that He has forgiven me for a multitude of sins, one of those being that I’ve served the god of Christmas for many years. He has changed my heart in a mighty way, and I am determined to forsake the seasonal stressing so I can focus on the Blessing!
As Christians, I believe it is vitally important that we stop and ask ourselves during this holy time, “If there were no lights, trees, parades, and parties would we still celebrate? If our Christmas was as lowly and quiet as it was in the stable all those years ago, would we still rejoice? If there were no gifts and all we had was Jesus, would He be enough?”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
What better gift could we ask for?