I have had so many thoughts and lessons from God this Christmas season, but so little time and/or energy to share them here. Because I am now out for winter break (I am a teacher, if you didn’t know), I have some time. I have decided to do a series of posts that I will put up when ever time allows for some writing. So there may be a string of them in one day, or days between them. We’ll see how it goes. Anyway, without further ado, here is the first of what I hope will be many before the 25th of December.
I am going to start with a soap box issue for me. Possibly not the best jumping off point to inspire you to read future posts in this series, but I have to start where my thoughts started this year. It is probably an overplayed issure, but it is my turn to pipe in on it. Over commercialization of Christmas, however this is not just about Walmart (and other stores) starting the Christmas rush earlier and earlier every year…it is more about Christians buying into the over commercializing of the birth of Jesus and trivializing what his birth truly means.
Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus was born into the human existence as a real human baby, which let him live a normal human life sinlessly (as prescribed to the Israelites by God through Moses), which allowed him to die a death he did not deserve and take the wrath of God that we deserve. and then he was raised from the dead to show that his payment for our sin was accepted as paid in full and the grave no longer had any rights to him. Jesus being born is a big deal. However, I think that the over commericialization of Christmas has led most Christians into missing the point of Jesus’ birth.
Don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating the Christ-child. There are what I like to call the three “ions” that are key to the Christian faith. The Incarnation (Jesus stepping out of heaven to live the human experience…just without sinning), the Crucifiction (Jesus dying a greusome death on the cross and being separated completely from God, and doing so to pay the price for our sin), and the Resurrection (Jesus being raised from the dead because the price was paid and death could not hold him). Jesus’ birthday is the Incarnation side of things, and it is very important. I just think as celebration of Christmas becomes bigger and bigger (and earlier and earlier), we lose sight of why it is important, and Christians start becoming more and more like the main character in the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
The movie stars Will Farrell as a Nascar driver. I do not know a whole lot about the movie, because I have never actually watched it. But there are scenes that I remember from the ads for it and that I have heard quoted and eventually watched online. The parts of the movie that I am referring to are parodies of how some Christians can act, and they are extremely over-the-top and sacreligious. For that reason, I won’t share a link to YouTube or quote the movie. I will just summarize what my reference is about.
The main character, Ricky Bobby, is a “christian.” He prays often in the movie, but he prays to “Lord Baby Jesus.” There are a few scenes with prayers in which he makes several allusions to Jesus as a baby. He even gets into arguments with his family about it and how Jesus was not just a baby. He response was always that he likes Baby Jesus the best and that is who he prays to and worships. Like I said, it is over-the-top and a satire of how some people seem to be. My fear is that we all take on shades of this sometimes at Christmas.
We get caught up with the magic and wonder of Jesus as a baby, which in of itself is not bad. It was the miracle of God leaving Heaven to come to Earth as our Savior. It is something to celebrate. I think we just forget to focus on the why part of why Jesus had to become a baby to save us. I know I do. It is so easy to get caught up in Christmas and the Christmas traditions.
This year, I have really been convicted about this. After reading through the Bible, the Holy Spirit has been able to show me over and over why Jesus had to come. It is because he had to be human and live that life so that he could sacrafice it for my sin.
The “reason for the season” is that I am a sinner who is separated from God. Only God himself can save me. Jesus is God in flesh. He came to Earth and lived the live I couldn’t. Because he lived a sinless life, he could give that life up. He did not have to die. He never sinned, so he did not deserve death. Not only did he not have to die, he did not deserve to be tortured and then separated from God the Father and the Holy Spirit. He was separated from them on the cross and then again as he was in the grave for three days (and what ever the sinners after life is). The one who had lived in eternity past with the Father and Spirit was separated from them for days. That may not seem like long to us, but I am sure it was like forever to him. He then came back from the dead because the price was paid. Prisoners do not have to stay in prison once the sentence is up. Jesus walked away from the jail (while it blew up behind him…see Action Hero Jesus for more). He came, lived, died, and rose again. It it was all because I was a sinner who needed to be saved.
Baby Jesus is important, but it is not everything. It is not even why Christmas is important. God heard our cries, and he came and saved us. Jesus being born is about him accepting our death. This is what Christmas is about.
Father, Jesus, and Spirit, please do not let me miss the point and the reason for Christmas this year. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for your sacrafice. Thank you for your love. Your son and dependent, Joe.