The following column is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not those of AllOnGeorgia.
By: Dr. William F. Holland Jr., minister, chaplain, and author of the column series ‘Living on Purpose’. You can read more about the Christian life and see other works by Dr. Holland at billyhollandministries.com
Once again, we have stressed with trying to figure out what to give people who already have everything they need. If you are like me, it’s common to finally settle on exchanging gift-cards. Come to think of it, I’m trying to understand how we went from the wise men bringing gifts to Christ as an act of worship, to the ritual of giving gifts to each other? I don’t remember Mary and Joseph exchanging presents with the shepherds, having a feast, or Bethlehem being decorated with tinsel and ribbons. Yes, there is widespread affection for the magical stories and traditions that we are accustomed to, but we also have the reality that much of our holiday festivities has little to do with Christ at all. Not to mention that children are taught that Santa has similar abilities as God. Nonetheless, for those who would rather focus on a more spiritual meaning instead of being mesmerized by the Christmas tree, we are reminded of the angel’s message to Mary in Luke 1:35, “The holy child that you will give birth to will be called the Son of God.”
If there was ever a reason to celebrate, it would be to tell the world that Jesus Christ is the Savior who came to deliver us from sin. He is the Master of the universe, the Creator of all things, and is forever the way, the truth, and the life. It’s true it would have been much easier for the Almighty to send us a Hallmark card expressing how much He cares about us, but instead He wanted to demonstrate and prove His love by sending His only Son to be our Redeemer. He is now patiently waiting for someone to decide if they will live for Him or themselves. It’s no secret the temptation to become entangled in commercialism can distract us from the true reason for the season, and I suppose this qualifies people like me as being a Grinch. However, in my defense, if you’ve read, “The gift of the Magi” we see there is a significant difference between wisdom and being impulsive and that love is the real meaning of life – not materialism. Anyway, there is genuine peace and comfort in knowing that Christ is filled with endless mercy and compassion for all people. Because of His humble entrance into this realm to save those who believe, we can sing His praises, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.”
I was driving down the road the other day and noticed a person up ahead holding a sign. The first thing that came to my mind was that someone is being paid to advertise for a Christmas sales event or maybe it was a plea from someone needing financial help. As I came closer, I noticed the sign said, “Jesus loves you.” I respect anyone who would stand on the side of the road on a cold and windy Saturday morning while fearlessly relaying a message about God’s love. This simple act of compassion touches the deepest part of my conscience and as I drove by I waved and smiled attempting to encourage and show my support all the while wondering about my own concern for the lost. Our human nature desires for Jesus to bless us but is not really excited about His cross. We want forgiveness, but not His judgment. We want Heaven without surrendering our will in order to do His. We want a Savior, but not a Lord to direct what we do. And what does He want? Among the lighted trees, the snowmen, and reindeer, may we humbly realize that all the Lord has ever wanted is our heart.
Galatians 4:19 is not usually considered a Christmas text, but the Apostle Paul makes a very interesting statement, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Is this not an appropriate time to declare our need for Jesus to be born into our lives? A holy truth that never becomes old or outdated and is as life-changing today as it was the moment Jesus was born. The greatest Christmas miracle would be for Christ to be born in all of us. Do you have room for the Savior in your life? May we consider the familiar lines of, O Little Town of Bethlehem, “O holy child of Bethlehem, descend on us we pray, cast out our sins and enter in, be born in us today.”