(And so right now, I can picture my daughter screaming bloody murder at me because we haven’t even reached Thanksgiving yet. But this is important to cover NOW, and you’ll see why in a moment.)
Christmas is important to Christians, not because it marks the day our Lord was born as a mortal human being – it doesn’t; it’s pretty clear from the mere fact that He was born at a time when all of Israel had to travel to their home base, in this case Bethlehem. They wouldn’t have planned that in winter when travel was difficult; the couple couldn’t have had their newborn essentially outdoors in a MANGER if it was wintery, for that matter – but because it commemorates the virgin birth of Jesus Christ as a fully God, fully human child.The Son of God and The Son of Man. In a sense, Christmas is the first half of the story of our salvation: the life and birth of our Lord and Savior. The second half, of course, is Easter, which commemorates the sacrifice, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
Many Christians turn their noses up at the version of Christmas that currently reigns in the Western world – commercialized within an inch of death. And it’s important to make sure that you and your family and close circle of friends remember the true meaning of the holiday is recognizing God’s great plan of redemption, and that without it none of us would have any chance of being saved from the fiery pits of hell.
But Christmas is our greatest opportunity as Christians to visit with non-Believers about our faith – about the relationship that every single person needs to establish with the Son of Man, about the one way that their eternal souls can be saved from the burning fires of Hell.
This is the best chance we have to engage our friends and family members about the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and the meaning of His life, and most importantly the meaning of His death. Even non-Believers understand the idea that Christmas is (supposed to be) about the birth of Jesus Christ – this makes the topic far less taboo during December than it is the rest of the year. NOW is the time for us to mention to our unsaved loved ones how important the original concept of Christmas is to us – and to slide into the telling of the Gospel itself.
Share with your loved ones WHY we give gifts at Christmas – not because the wise men brought the infant Jesus gifts, per se, but because of the gift that God THROUGH Jesus Christ gave to US –
the GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE WITH GOD IN HEAVEN.
This is the true meaning of Christmas – the giving of ourselves to those we love. In that sense, the actions we take during Christmas parallel the actions of our Savior during Easter – giving ourselves, making sacrifices for those we love.
And don’t forget that according to both the Father and the Son, everyone is our neighbor, and we are to love everyone as we love ourselves. NOT just those who we know well.
So, one of (if not) THE most important things we must do as Christians is to represent “what Christ would do” during this season of giving. And that doesn’t just mean giving presents to the people on your shopping list:
- Contribute to charities that help those who most need it.
- Go through your possessions – have your kids sift through their own toys and books – and give away at least as much as you expect to receive in gifts. (In our home, we do this after Christmas so we already know what kind of quantities we’re looking at.)
- Spend time working for the underprivileged – serve at a soup kitchen, work at a homeless shelter, whatever is available to you in your town or city. Remind yourself how fortunate you are to have what you have in your life.
- Most importantly, make sure that your children not only know about all of this but participate in all of this. THIS is the reason for the season.
The most important part of all of this, as a Christian, is to live your life as a Christian, with the joy of giving in your countenance, and for those around you to see the Lord’s presence within you and desire to share in His glory and grace. It’s the primary goal of every Christian, the final command of Christ before His Ascension: Go therefore and make disciples of all the world.” At some point, you’ll have to share the Gospel with them, but by living the life that God wants you to live, you open the pathways for those around you to wonder what gift you have that gives you such joy.
And NOW is the most opportune time for you to show those around you exactly what having Christ aboard you means. Not only do you have the most receptive audience you’ll have at any time during the year, but you have the best opportunities of the year to show your loved ones what being a Christian truly means.