Do you get a little frustrated when someone says to you, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas?” It is interesting to me that we get interested in Christmas trees, Christmas programs, and Christmas gifts, but I sincerely wonder how much our focus is really on Christ? Some who get all excited about saying Merry Christmas haven’t really focused much on Jesus Christ all year long and whether someone says Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas isn’t going to change who is at the center of your life. Let’s be honest, what are the things that really become our main interest during this season of the year? I don’t know exactly when Jesus was born and I know there is nothing in the Bible about the exact time of that birth or even us celebrating it. But I am grateful for anything that leads us to focus on Jesus more in life.
Gifts, family, dinners, church events, lighting trees, and going to programs and plays that supposedly reenact the birth of Jesus all seem like good things to do and they may well be. But I sincerely doubt that most of them leave me thinking more about Jesus in my life as Savior, Lord, and redeemer. Perhaps the best thing we could do would be to actually open the Bible and read the story of Jesus’ birth. But I must remember that while Jesus’ birth was a wonderful thing, it was his life as God in the flesh that made the difference. It was his death on our behalf on the cross that made it possible for us to be saved. It was his resurrection from the dead that demonstrated most powerfully that he had fought Satan in his most powerful arena and came out the victor over death, over the last enemy to be destroyed at his coming. It was his ascension to set down at the right hand of God and reign as king over his kingdom, head of the church and the mediator for us because he wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth that gives fullness of joy. Just before Jesus ascended back to the Father he not only gave us the great commission or mission for the church and for each member of it, to make disciples as we go about in the world, by baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you and I will be with you always, even to the end of the world.
I’m blessed as a dad to have three daughters, who all have husbands and each of them had three children all but one of which are now married and from that group, we have nine great-grandchildren, so far. What if when our family gathers during the Christmas season, all I focused on was the birth of all these grown children and grandchildren and talked about how great they looked as babies?
While I certainly have no problem with celebrating any aspect of Jesus birth, life, reign or return, it is vital to remember that Jesus in a manger was only a tiny part of the story and that if I’m to think as I should I need to celebrate “Christ” in all points of his life from before creation to heaven when he leads us by eternal fountains of water and wipes all tears from our eyes.
Two things that are extremely important to remember always are that no single part of Jesus’ life is enough. I need to see his whole life and ministry. Second, no one day of thinking about any aspect of Jesus is nearly enough. We may have wonderful celebrations of Christmas and Easter or other such great days of vast importance, but what God is always calling us to do is to focus our lives on Him and being like him, following him and leaning on Him every day in everything that I think, say or do. “Christ in you is the hope of glory.” Paul pictured his ministry as one of having Christ formed in the lives of those who were followers of Christ.
With the angels shout, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and goodwill toward men” at his birth. Sing with all your heart, “Jesus is Lord”. Glory in the fact that “He is risen”, and “Because He lives I can face tomorrow.” Jesus is just as much with us today wherever we may be as he was in Bethlehem for his birth. I hope you have a great Christmas, but I hope you think every day that the one born in Bethlehem was “Immanuel” which means “God with us.” We never need to walk alone in this world or the next. Merry Christmas!