From Humble Beginnings

The world has savagely attacked Christmas in an attempt to delegitimize Christ by shifting attention away from celebration of His birth to the worldly pursuit of selfish avarice marked by the annual spectacle of shoppers brawling over Black Friday deals for trinkets of temporary value as we’re led to ignore the most precious gift we could ever hope to be given.

The origins of Jesus’ birth in a lowly manger in the town of Bethlehem are all too familiar to us Christians who grew up in the church listening to preachers struggling to deliver the familiar story found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke in a fresh manner that revealed something unique to the listener. Jesus entered the world in humble circumstances so that His impact in the world would be on account of His message and not some earthly power He had inherited because of His birth. Jesus came to save mankind as the perfect sacrifice and lived a life of exemplary service demonstrating the principles He expected His disciples to exhibit towards one another in line with the teachings of the Bible. In His sacrifice, Jesus provided the most precious gift any human could ever hope to receive by paying the costs of our sins and reconciling us to the Father.

Before Jesus, we had no way of erasing our sins from our account with God, but Jesus’ death on the cross as the perfect sacrifice washed away our sins and made reconciliation with God possible. This reconciliation with God is offered to all who accept their need for a Savior and confess Jesus as their Savior. This is not a worldly gift of a material thing prone to corruption and rot, but an everlasting gift for eternity that offers a fallen world the promise of reconciliation with God the Father and eternal life in His presence.

Christians, as followers of Christ came to be known, came to celebrate this precious gift of reconciliation with God and eternal life in His presence by celebrating the birth of Christ. They observed this celebration by exchanging gifts as a reminder of the wonderful gift given to them by Christ. An evergreen tree decorated with lights came to symbolize the eternal life provided by Christ’s sacrifice and His being the light of the world piercing the darkness of evil.

Jesus lived an exemplary life of service devoid of the pursuit of material wealth the world considers important. He was mocked by the world as weak for His humility and meekness, but His words and actions demonstrated an immense power of self-control which few mere mortals such as us have the ability to command. Jesus, as both man and God, reigned supreme over the angels who would have rushed to intercede on His behalf had He so commanded, yet He willingly refused their help as He went about His mission on behalf of mankind. There are very few people who, having command of such power, would willingly refuse to employ it upon being slighted by another, much less so than to save their lives from the horrible fate which Christ suffered on behalf of an ungrateful world.

Satan and his minions tremble at the power shown by Christ in His final days on Earth, and rightly so for it reveals just how little power Satan has at his command. Satan is able to beguile us and tempt us and ensnare us, but he has no power to compel us or force us to choose his evil over the good of Christ. Christ does have the power to compel us, but He chooses to leave the decision entirely up to us. Such power frightens Satan, and he uses all of his cunning ways to distract us from Christ to lure us into his snares.

What began as a celebration of Christ’s birth in recognition of the precious gift He bestowed upon us with His death on the cross has slowly evolved into a display of crass commercialization upon which companies base their yearly profitability. Marketing campaigns direct us to spend vast sums we can ill afford on items which we neither need nor want all in service to the idea of celebrating an event which has come to be known simply as a holiday season as all references to its Christian origins are erased with the excuse that the mere mention of Christianity could possibly be offensive to some. The warning in Revelations that there will come a time when good is portrayed as evil and evil is portrayed as good comes to mind witnessing the evolution of Christmas from a celebration of Christ’s birth to a mere reason to acquire material things at discounted prices.

We are deluged with advertising extolling the great deals and discounts available this time of year. Marketing events such as Black Friday are hyped to increase the anticipation of discounted shopping opportunities until they have become shocking displays of brawling shoppers acting in the antithesis of the humility and grace shown by Christ. Lest we attempt to ignore this crass commercialization, the marketers are there to urge us back into the fray by guilting us into participation with scenes of children saddened at the prospect of having no toys, no tree, and no Christmas dinner. The implication is that we are lowly Scrooges denying children the opportunity to experience their version of a commercialized Christmas in our refusal to participate in the annual shopping frenzy which they’ve created. We are urged to donate a toy so a child in need can experience the joy of Christmas. It is difficult to make the argument that Christ and His precious gift are the real reason we celebrate Christmas when looking into the eyes of a sad child given the brainwashing society has experienced over the years in service to the commercialization of Christmas.

The gifts we receive from others and from ourselves in taking advantage of the myriad discounted shopping opportunities will be cherished for a time, then fade into regular use, and eventually end up in the trash as their usefulness has faded or they’ve become worn out to the point of requiring replacement. Long forgotten by that time will be the circumstances of their acquisition. We may vaguely remember that someone gave us something we’ve found particularly useful some Christmas long ago, but we probably won’t recall the Black Friday event at we purchased some of these items unless there was a particularly nasty brawl involved or we received some fantastic deal. Like other worldly things, they will fade away with time.

The gift of reconciliation and forgiveness made possible by Christ’s perfect sacrifice on our behalf will last for eternity and will never fade with time. It will be just as precious in the future as it was when we first received it upon our confessing our need for Christ as our Savior. The world wishes to distract us from recognizing and celebrating this perfect gift by tempting us with the shiny baubles of worldly things, but we must remain focused on the real reason for Christmas if we are to have any hope of shifting the focus of Christmas back to Christ. We must remember that a poor child is better served by hearing the good news of Christ instead of receiving a material item which will eventually be tossed in the trash. Christ reminds us that the poor must be nourished both in spirit and in body.

It would serve us well to step back from the madness of seasonal shopping and refocus on Christ and His gift of everlasting life made possible by His sacrifice on the cross as the true meaning of our celebration of Christmas. Scenes of shoppers brawling over useless trinkets after having come together in a day of Thanksgiving for the blessings which God has poured out over our nation stand in stark contrast to the meek and humble life of service and sacrifice Jesus lived as our example. Jesus implored us to do unto others that which we would have them do unto us, not do unto others before they do unto us. Where is the Christmas spirit displayed as shoppers animated by greed fight with one another over material things they don’t really need with no regard of their fellow man? Where is humility and meekness observed in someone snatching the last flat-screen television away from someone else just so they can selfishly save a few dollars? Where is the humanity in advertisers convincing people that Christmas is merely a reason to shop to the point where depictions of sad children longing for the experience of receiving worldly things are used to prompt us back into the stores so companies can improve their profitability?

Christmas is a time to celebrate the great news of Christ’s gift to us of everlasting life. It should be observed simply with the focus on Christ and our immense gratitude for His gift of sacrifice on our behalf. We should use it as an occasion to teach our children about Christ and as an opportunity to witness to others. Christmas is still the one time of the year when we experience joy in our hearts and our spirits are lifted, and we should strive to conserve this spirit by returning our focus on Christ. I wish a Merry Christmas to all as we celebrate the birth of our Savior and offer our thanks for His sacrifice and God’s grace upon us.

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