During my life, as I've learned how to become a man, come to know the Lord and grown firm in my commitment to Christ, I've noticed some significant changes about Christmas. Ironically, they seem to have come from a bit of a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, the notion that a Savior was born to rescue me from my filth is huge. It's not just a song or a sentiment. In fact, I don't think any nativity scene could depict the reality that hits me now. On the other hand, I think I'm much more cynical about the way society treats Christmas. While I don't apologize for that cynicism, it's not a badge I wear gladly either. It weighs heavily on me today.
The thing about Christmas is that it seems to be epitomized by hypocrisy. There are people celebrating Christmas that don't believe Christ is the Messiah, the Savior. They don't believe that, "Unto you a Savior is born." In fact, they openly declare it as a lie, nonsense. And yet they will celebrate Christmas. I heard a Jewish talk radio show the other day going on about how wonderful the Christmas season is and how much the Jewish host enjoyed the Christmas parties he gets invited to. And I was perplexed. He said it didn't matter that he doesn't believe in Christmas. Incredible.
If I'm having a Christmas party, it is definitely not to entertain you. My purpose in having that party is to celebrate the birth of my Savior. That I invite you to that party is simply my request that you join me in celebrating that truth. (Why else would you come?) I'm troubled that Christmas gets watered down by materialism, by secularism and most of all by the Christians themselves. We allow the world to water down this glorious celebration and make it about at least a dozen other things.
Jesus had a lot to say about hypocrisy. He spoke boldly about the tendency of His followers being lulled into religious hypocrisy in Luke 12:1-5. So what are the signs of hypocrisy? I think there are several.
- Knowing the truth but not obeying it.
- Living a self-serving life.
- Reducing faith to a set of rules or rituals.
- Outward conformity without inner reality.
- It's that time of the year, when even the most casual Christians will allegedly "celebrate" the birth of the Savior. But what are they really celebrating?
- It seems that those of us who are celebrating often get sucked into the materialistic side of Christmas. Why does it even have a materialistic side?
- It seems that the most religious of us will go through the motions. We make Christmas a ritual to be celebrated. It's a motion we go through. I've actually heard people say they can't wait for it to be over!
- It seems that we run through the motions of Christmas, going to church on Christmas Eve, maybe even singing in the choir and buying gifts for an angel tree. But does Christ know us? Would He count each of us as His? Certainly not because we are "celebrating" Christmas!
Won't you join me?