Christmas is the wonderful miracle of our savior, God Himself, humbling Himself by coming into this world for the simple purpose of expressing His amazing, boundless, measureless love for each and every one of us. Jesus came into the world for the masses of people throughout the world and throughout the ages, but make no mistake about it, God’s love is so big that if you were the only person affected by the need for salvation, He would have come just for you. Because of this incredible miracle of God’s love and of God coming to us in human form, the season of Christmas is and should be a magical time in which the spirit of love and kindness and giving should abound for each other, for all of our family and fellow human beings anywhere that we may encounter them in our daily lives. Sure, there are people who turn Christmas into a season of materialistic indulgence, but we were put here on this earth to make a difference in the world as we bring God’s ways and God’s character into this fallen world. We were not put here to be driven by what others do out of their ignorance or sin. Therefore, we should not let the wrongful actions of others take away our joy or ruin our celebrations of this wonderful season or any other Christian celebration.
There are also those who criticize this holiday, arguing that the celebration has its roots in pagan holidays. Again, we were not put here on this earth to be driven by what others do or by what others intend. God’s power in us is meant to be salt and light to the earth, to redeem and reclaim. Who cares if pagans just happened to celebrate some holiday at some time in the past at the same period of time that we celebrate Jesus. We are not like the wicked that Jude wrote about, constantly being blown about like clouds, driven by every whim of those around us. With God’s Holy Spirit in us from the moment of salvation through Jesus, we have power to be so much more than lemmings or sheep. We don’t let others dictate to us what to do. We look to God for His prompting on what we should do, and then we try to influence society around us for the better. So, we should not worry about what others do during this celebration or what others did hundreds of years ago. What is more important is what the season means to us right now and the end result of how we celebrate it. If our celebration of this season leads us to be a little more humble, to be a little more cognizant of God’s blessings in our lives, to be a little more thankful, to be a little more thoughtful of others and their burdens or suffering, to take us out of selfish thinking and to focus on others as we try to figure out gifts that would please them and be helpful to them, and to be joyful about our lives and the possibility of God working in us and others – if all these things and more are the result of our actions and thoughts during this season, then the season will indeed be worth celebrating. God sent Jesus here for this very reason, that our lives would be transformed and transformative for everyone that we touch with His Agape love.
So, this is a season for celebration and worship of our Savior and a time to enjoy and to lovingly serve each other as God intended. God truly wants us to celebrate and enjoy life. There are times when life can be hard, so we should not make it harder by being legalists that forget how to enjoy life, making ourselves miserable for no reason, building guilt into our lives as if our misery will buy us brownie points with God. This is not the perspective that God wants us to have. Sure He wants us to be humble, and He wants us to have a realistic understanding of how depraved we are without Him, but if we let God have His way in our lives and submit to Him each step of the way, He can help us to be humble and to understand our depravity without always being miserable. He can do this by His power to give us the abundant, joyful life that is His plan. If we try to maintain control and do it our way, we will certainly end up in misery. But misery is the tool of the legalist and of Satan. Both of these kind want us to be miserable, but this is not God's plan. Sure, there will be times of suffering in life. Life comes with suffering built into it. There is no avoidance of this. But God, the Father, sent His son Jesus into this world not so that the suffering would win. With His power and love in our lives, we become the victors over these sorrows. So, since there will be sorrow enough in life, we should, therefore, celebrate and enjoy life every chance we get, and so much the more during this season that we remember that God loved us so much that He came to this life to suffer and die for us.
Moreover, God truly wants us to love each other, not only our family, but every person we know and even strangers we may meet in chance encounters. The birth of Jesus was intended by God to bring peace on Earth and good will to all people. Without God’s intervention in people’s lives, life can be bleak and ugly. With the advent of His Son coming to earth in physical form, we now have the opportunity for a covenant relationship with Him and for the abundant life that follows as He works in our lives to make us into better people and to bring happiness to our hearts, driving out all the sin and fear and pain. And as He works in our hearts, we can become amazing people that are a blessing to all around us. This truly is a miracle that is worthy of amazement and worthy of great celebration during this season.
Because of His intervention in our lives, all of us in our family have become loving people, enjoying and appreciating each other. Sure we are not perfect. We do, each of us, have our bad days. But there is so much of God’s love abounding in each of us that the bad days become fewer and fewer as He builds more of His character into each of us in this family. As a result, every time we are together, we have so much fun. It may sound like a miracle, but I guess that’s exactly what it is because it came about, not because we are unusual or special, but because we all entered into covenant relationship with God through our savior Jesus, and we have all yielded to our amazing God and committed to doing things His way throughout the years. Sure, there were some hard times with the numerous moves and with my deployment, with life abroad in Germany (which had its good and bad times, but came with some burdens since we were away from extended family), with stressful assignments which took their toll on me and which the children probably felt in some way no matter how hard I tried to keep them sheltered from the difficulties. But everyone in life suffers and has hard times. Life is messy and difficult. This is unavoidable. What is avoidable, however, is surrendering to the bleakness and hardness and just letting ourselves be consumed by the sorrows we face. There is a better way, but we cannot figure it out by ourselves. This is why we need God to show us the way and to put power in us to do what we cannot do by ourselves. As we first commit our lives to Him through Jesus, and then commit to spending time with Him in daily prayer, He can put these good things into us over the years, bit by bit, until we don’t even recognize the person that we have become, or we look back from the places that God takes us to and can’t recognize the person that we once were.