You start hearing the groans in October. It’s the sound of people complaining about the Christmas decorations already being displayed in the big box stores. Sure, it’s excessive. Sure, the local radio stations playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving robs us of “comfort and joy” by the time the holiday actually gets here. That’s Christmas in America. We love to celebrate, but it’s clear that we also have a focus problem.
I’ve often wondered what households would look like if the grinch actually took all the “Who’s” Christmas away. No more lights, no more gifts, no more songs, no more family gathering insanity. I’m not sure we could bounce back as quickly as Who-Ville. What if the men of the house had one thing to use to celebrate Christmas with their families? Their Bible. If all of the fanfare of the season didn’t exist, would we still reserve a day to celebrate the incarnation? Is that even what we’re celebrating at all?
This lust for more isn’t just during Christmas. There is a tangible vibration, an urge, a craving, to make worship “more” of whatever our preferences are in the modern church. Sometimes it reminds me of the scene in the movie Gladiator when Maximus walks into a small-time gladiatorial arena and proceeds to almost effortlessly dismantle a series of untrained, basically helpless slaves. He then throws a sword into a “press box” of aristocratic figures and yells, “Are you not entertained?” The onlookers in that arena came to see a prolonged drama that ultimately ended in senseless, yet entertaining death. Nothing about what Maximus did in that moment was entertaining. It was frightening. It was fast. It was one-sided slaughter.
Before you think I’ve completely gone off the deep-end, please know, I’m completely in favor of the Christmas holiday. I’m completely in agreement with spending time with family, opening gifts, eating, going to all of the church services, and so on. I love those parts of the season, but our approach to Christmas, shouldn’t be as easy to destroy Biblically as those helpless slaves in the movie.
Christmas is primarily about Christ. Jesus of Nazareth. The carpenter’s son. A baby born of a virgin and laid in a livestock trough, in a town nobody knew anything about. He lived a life that most of us would have completely rejected, and he died a death for people that hate him. He came back to life three days later and is currently sitting in a place that our most beautiful celebration couldn’t even consider comparing to. Our problem isn’t just at Christmas time. Our problem is that we do everything in our power to make our savior into something more satisfying than we feel he is. The issue with that? It’s impossible. There isn’t a celebration, a holiday, a church service, a song, a sermon, or a building that can make Jesus more satisfying than he already is. If we are trying to make Jesus more satisfying than he is now, then we aren’t talking about the same Jesus that the Bible shows us.
As I’m writing this, I have to ask myself why in the world I would take this kind of approach to a blog post. It’s because I know that what I want out of Christmas is for my heart to be filled again with joy in my savior. This can come in a segmented, incomplete way through healthy Christmas traditions, but never like putting my full focus on the work of God through his son for my salvation ever could.
I pray you have a soul filling Christmas this year!