Well, we made it through Christmas. Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men… and boy do we need it, huh?
The last few days have been wonderful, peaceful times spent with family and friends. But the prior few weeks? This has been one of the craziest Christmas seasons I can remember.
A bad economy, contentious political environment, throw in the the Mayan ”end of the world” jokes with the crazy gunmen that ended the world for too many innocents, and top that off with a flat out ugly debate over gun control – it was a crazy season. Combine that with the secularized Christmas season – bells & lights, singing & shopping, so much focus on consumerism — sometimes I feel like standing alongside Charlie Brown and shouting:
“Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
I love the response that Linus gives to Charlie Brown, turning the focus back to the miracle of the incarnation, the birth of Jesus, the message that God is with us: Immanuel! But, that message often gets lost in the surrounding noise, noise, Noise, NOISE that reverberates during this BUSY season.
Part of the confusion comes from the distorted, worldly view of the message of Christmas. We hear that “the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day” and “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”, and so many other stories speak of the importance of giving, but they leave out a pretty important piece of the puzzle.
Why is that? John 1:4-5 puts it this way: In Him was LIFE, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
Let me see if I can illustrate the point that I think the world is missing. (And by the way, I miss it too often myself.)
To many, the message of Christmas is this:
If we let go of selfish desires and LOVE and GIVE to others, it makes the world a better place. (That is a good message!)
However, the full message of Christmas, as demonstrated by God taking on flesh through Jesus, says:
If we let go of our selfish desires, and let God’s love flow through us, we will LOVE and GIVE to others with GOD’s love, which impacts both this world and eternity, and that is an even better message!
What I’m saying is, our ability to love is enhanced greatly when we say “Ok God, I’ll do it your way” and let him work through us. And I’m not saying that this is an exclusively Christian thing either: I believe that God calls each of us to love one another in unique ways (i.e., his purpose, not ours). If we say “yes” to HIS call, we’re moving in the right direction, regardless of the religious or non-religious “hat” we are wearing. (i.e., God’s call supersedes bad theology.)
1 Cor.13:13 says “and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
God showed that He has FAITH in humanity by sending his Son…..
Because God sent his Son, we have HOPE in spite of the darkness in our world…..
And our hope reminds us that LOVE never fails.
What does Christmas mean to me? It means that God cares enough about us that He was willing to come to us as one of us so that we could know Him. It also means that the LOVE that was incarnate through Jesus is available to live through us as Immanuel – God with us, so that we can share God’s love with those around us.
I hope you know, it’s this LOVE that reminds me…
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!