Thousands of years of history and at least one thing has stood the test of time; people pursue wealth. Nobody wants to be poor. Nobody chooses to be poor. The desire for wealth transcends every culture, language, and race. It’s basic human nature. Just observe a 4 year old, much like my daughter, in a store. “I want that! I want that too!”, and on and on the cry for more is heard.
Christmas has not escaped this lust for things. Every year the lists are made, the hints are dropped, and the expectations are high. I’m not just talking about children, adults are pretty good at this behavior too! If anything, Christmas only highlights this human disease and brings to light the foolishness of it all. Solomon writes in the book of Ecclesiastes, “…man gathers for what? So that when he dies someone else can enjoy his possessions?” Jesus addressed the issue of material possessions this way, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal.”
I’m not “bah humbugging” gift giving. Don’t think I’m becoming a Negative Ned. But, one of my goals every Christmas is to peel back the superfluous layers of holiday trappings that distract us from pure and authentic worship.
Worship is about what we value most and Christmas can be a real test of what we value most. So, let’s take a quick survey:
-What do you spend the most time doing over the Christmas holiday? Decorating? Baking? Gift shopping? Worshipping Jesus?
-What grabs your attention the most at Christmas? The music? Family? The lights, smells, and tastes? Your Savior?
-What do you love most about Christmas? Time with Family? Parties? Gift getting and giving? Plays, pageants, and concerts? Jesus?
I have to admit that pursuing Jesus with consistent admiration over Christmas is not easy for me. I’m a huge fan of Christmas music, so much so that I often sneak a listen way before Thanksgiving even comes around! I love putting up lights and decorating. Every year I try and go to a play, a concert, or a pageant about Christmas. And yet, even in these things Jesus can lose his lead character role in it all. Each year I have to slow down, close my eyes and bring Jesus to the front stage of my heart. Front and center where He belongs.
When my son was younger, each day of Advent, I would tell him a story. I started at the beginning of the Christmas story – in Genesis. What? You are probably thinking that’s an odd place to talk about Christmas. But it isn’t a strange place to start the story of Jesus. I moved through the Old Testament with stories about Abraham and King David and Israel in captivity before we ever get to Mary and Joseph. My goal was to weave the stories together so that my son would see, and I would be reminded, of the larger story of God’s redemptive love. You see Christmas means so much more than a baby in a manger. It’s an exciting chapter in the larger story, the story of the rescue of mankind.
What I want most these days has nothing to do with earthly possessions. What I want most is to worship my Lord and Savior who is eternally God and Rescuer of mankind. I want to embrace tightly within my heart the gift of grace that He is to me and to my family. And, I want to resemble a life that is unattached to the things of this world and rather inseparable from my Savior.
May your heart ponder the things of Christmas as even Mary his mother did – with great Joy and Worship.