If I asked you, What is Christmas about? you might say Jesus. If you have been around church for a while, then you might even know that Christmas is a time when Christians celebrate the coming of the Messiah in the birth of Jesus. But do you know why Jesus came?
Truth-be-told, the Bible gives several reasons for Christ’s coming. Implicit in all of these reasons is the truth that Jesus came as Lord (Romans 1:4). In fact, Christ’s lordship makes all the other reasons for his coming possible, including the ultimate reason—to give God glory (Romans 15:8–13). Giving God glory is what the heavenly hosts did when they announced the incarnate deity, “Christ the Lord,” lying in a manger (Luke 2:10–14).
To answer our original question—What is Christmas about?—Christmas is ultimately about the glory of God seen in Christ the Lord. But what if I asked you a slightly different question: What is your Christmas about? The answers to these two questions can, and should, be the same. But I fear that more often than not, they are drastically different in most of our lives.
Your Christmas Traditions
Think about it with me for a moment: what rituals and practices does your Christmas season revolve around? Putting up a Christmas tree? Hanging garland? Decorating your house in Christmas lights until you cause the whole neighborhood to lose power because you blew a transformer? Reading the Christmas story from Luke 2? Buying presents and maxing out credit cards? And, lest we all forget, watching Elf!
To be clear, I am certainly not implying that these traditions are bad. There is nothing in Scripture that would condemn Christmas trees or lights or fun stories or giving special gifts. These are actually good gifts flowing from God’s common grace that bring us joy and help alleviate some of the burden of living in a sinful world. The questions is, What do you most look forward to during the Christmas season?
Getting to the Heart
What you get most excited about when you think about Christmas is what your Christmas is about. In this light, can you honestly say that your Christmas is about Jesus? Is it immediately obvious to those closest to you based on how you spend your time and money during the Christmas season that Christmas is chiefly about the glory of God seen in the lordship of Christ? Or do you celebrate Christmas like your agnostic neighbor next door?
The New Testament nowhere commands Christians to celebrate Christmas, so there are no specific prescriptions that can give us a perfectly Christ-centered Christmas. But if we choose to celebrate the coming of our Lord (which I think is a good thing), then each of us must wrestle with what it means to glorify God by recognizing the lordship of Christ in our own Christmas festivities. Does that mean no Elf this year? Maybe. But maybe not (I really hope Elf stays on the table for our family!). The point is not to remove everything you love from your Christmas festivities, but it is to make overwhelmingly evident Who you love in them.
This is an ongoing process that takes time and has many challenges along the way. Are you there yet? Probably not. Am I there yet? Definitely not! “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13–14). Regardless of our specific traditions, each of us should take the time to ask ourselves this Christmas season, Does my Christmas season reflect the lordship of Christ?