It’s around this time of year, and the Christmas festivities are all around us. Some people plan well in advance — They set up their tree, decorate their house with lights, and have their gifts already bought for their loved ones. Yet, others are not so fortunate, and find themselves racing to the mall, with Christmas just hours away, in a last ditch attempt to buy all of the gifts and decorations they think they will need. Even the overall atmosphere is pleasantly different around the holidays; oftentimes, you will witness a marked change in people’s attitudes and behaviors.
In malls all over North America, children line up to sit on Santa Claus’ lap. They are expected to seek out this illusionary character, and ask this “jolly old man” to get them whatever is on their wish list for that year. What a way to teach children how to place their trust in fictional characters, and to feed in to their selfish desires.
The concept of Santa Claus conflicts greatly with the prevalent theme that Christmas is also supposedly the day that Christ was born. Yet, there is no evidence in the Bible that Jesus was born on this day.
The idea that Christ was born on Christmas actually stems from a pagan festival called Saturnalia and dies natalis solis invicti (birth of the invincible sun god), honoring Saturn (the Roman god of agriculture) and Mithra (the Persian god of light). Likely, church officials settling on December 25 handpicked this date, in order to coincide with these co-existing pagan festivals. This in an attempt to make Christianity more appealing to Roman pagan subjects, and so that it could be officially recognized as the empire’s official religion.
You will find at the focus of many of these Christmas themed movies and songs about Christ, that it so often highlights the birth of Jesus. We like to think of Jesus as a cute little baby. In some ways it is sweet, and perhaps quite comforting. But should we simply stop this story at His birth? The story does go on…
In Matthew 1:21, the angel tells Mary that “she [would] bring forth a son” and His name would be Jesus, and also that “He [would] save his people from their sins”. This means that it was not only His birth that was so significant, but everything that took place after that. His life and ministry was one of self-sacrifice, and of redeeming His people from continually being in bondage in a world of darkness. His mission was to save us from our sins, so that they would no longer prevail over us. So essentially, this little baby boy would grow up to fulfill His earthly mission, to reveal to us “his kingdom [where] there [would] be no end”. (Luke 1:33)…to die on the cross so that we may be able to fully access His gift of salvation.
When you think about this, should not Christ’s ministry on earth and more importantly, His gift of sacrifice, be what takes center stage? For if this story had stopped at just His birth, we would have forever remained imprisoned in our sins, with no way out. Jesus gave us the keys to unleash us from these prisons of sin, when He died on the cross. By looking to Him, we now have a way out. Through the power of His strength, we can now become victorious over all of our sins.
No doubt, the story of Jesus’ birth is wonderful to tell not just at Christmas, but throughout the year, for if Jesus had not descended to our earth, how lost would we be! However, let us not forget what the true mission of Christ was. He gave us so much more than we will ever know – Because of Him, we have a second chance at life; a new one that can only be found in Him.
I know, that many will be excited to receive gifts from loved ones this year, yet the true focus should be on emulating the sacrificial spirit of Christ. The spirit within us should be to give, not to expect something in return, but because this is the very nature of our Saviour and Lord.
The most amazing thing, is that Jesus gave us the greatest gift that man can ever have. He already purchased us with His redeeming blood. You see, His gift is already available to us…all we have to do is accept.
So this Christmas, instead of toying around with shallow, artificial traditions, let us put Christ back at the center of it all, for this is where He rightfully belongs.
I don’t know about you, but I am so grateful that this story did not just stop at the manger.
May your holiday season this year be focused on Christ 🙂
(P.S. – Check out the videos below for more insight in the history of Christmas:
“History of Christmas.” History.com. A E Networks, 1 Jan. 2009. Web.
Photos Courtesy: Laura Ballard, anyka/123rf photos
Glory Belongs to God
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