It’s the season for … fighting. Seriously. I’m not talking about siblings arguing over who has more presents under the tree or navigating the pressure of how to fit in family visits throughout the holiday season. I’m talking about Christians making a HUGE deal about Jesus.
Please don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe that Jesus is the reason for the Season. And I happily wish many people, “Merry Christmas!” But sometimes I wonder about the very thing my guest Sherry Gareis talks about below. Sherry …
Where in the CHRISTMAS is Jesus?
Valid question, right?
I mean CHRIST should be in CHRISTmas, shouldn’t He?
Would it surprise you to know I had NO IDEA ‘Christ’ was in Christmas until I started my faith walk in my early twenties? Don’t judge me! I honestly didn’t know. Someone once told me it’s the simple things that go right over my head. While the concept is simple, however, the execution is not and can go largely unmet, by Believers and non-Believers alike.
How do we usually show Jesus?
Anyone own a ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season’ pin? I have several and make no bones about wearing them loud and proud during the Christmas season. I’m a Christian after all!
And we display Jesus on our Christmas trees, right? I’ve got bible character ornaments, verses, and nativity scenes on my tree. My favorite Christmas treasure is a beautiful angel tree topper which embodies the captivating spirit of the season. She lights up and holds a candle in one hand as her arms gently sway back and forth beckoning all to come. Oh how I adore her!
How about in our Christmas cards? Isn’t that an easy way to share Jesus? For family and friends who are Believers, we get a big ‘Atta Girl / Guy’ for our bold stance. And for those who aren’t Christians, well, the truth is we can get away with a wee bit more this time of year, so we sneak in a little Jesus through the back door, or hmmmm, the mailbox.
IS THIS ENOUGH?
Am I suggesting that pins, angels, and cards are bad? Of course not. Not at all! But are they enough? Is some Jesus better than no Jesus?
Perhaps, but there are so many more blessings to be had, both personally and for those around you, if Jesus is given all the time, love, and attention you have to offer at Christmas.
WE’VE GOT IT ALL BACKWARDS
Anyone love a good themed party? Oh how I do! For my grandson’s first birthday, we threw a John Deer Tractor Party. Now we all know the first birthdays are more for the parents than the kids, and in this case, it was really for Boppy AKA Grampy. The cake was over the top cool, green and yellow décor everywhere, little chocolate donuts were ‘tractor tires’, rice krispie treats were ‘hay stacks’, forks were ‘pitchforks’, etc. It was so much fun to plan and prepare, so know that I’m not calling out those who love them a good themed party, but…
Might I suggest that not making room for Jesus at Christmas is like throwing the ultimate themed birthday party but then forgetting all about the birthday boy!
Christmas isn’t about sharing remnants of Jesus or extending tidbit tokens, it’s about putting Jesus front and center in the celebration.
So what stops us from putting Jesus first? What distractions or hindrances prevent even the best of intentions from coming to fruition? Here are some thoughts:
- Focusing on finding the perfect gifts
- Trying to outdo your ex or other family members
- Competing with friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc.
- Over-the-top decorations
- Making an effort to serve the perfect meal
Does Christmas become a catalyst for you to get wrapped up in your own desires or issues? To concentrate on what YOU want. Do you crave being the center of attention? Do you have underlying jealousy issues? Do you suffer from discontentment?
Perhaps you just truly enjoy spoiling people and blessing them with delicious food, thoughtful presents, and wonderful moments. Maybe this is simply your love language shining through in an effort to show love to those who mean the most. Well, if that’s the case, what better way to bless those very people than to share the love of Jesus in all you do by intentionally exemplifying Him in your actions and celebrations. Getting caught up in the temporal, materialistic, and surface stuff may produce a nice moment, but there are other ways to love on family and friends and enjoy wonderful moments which will impact them for eternity, rather than just for an hour or two.
Growing up, I didn’t know Jesus. In fact, I came from a Jewish background. While some of my family members attended temple and kept Kosher, these rituals weren’t taught or practiced in my life. Consequently, the holidays became an odd mix of Christmas trees and Hanukkah bushes, Christmas lights and Menorah candles. The festivities centered around family, food, and fun.
Not necessarily negative in and of itself, but certainly lacking truth and faith rooted in the birth of Jesus Christ.
It took me awhile to get it. Even though I was saved in my early twenties, my spiritual walk and growth was a slow one. But slow and steady wins the race. Overtime, as I studied more, learned more, and deepened my relationship with Christ, the true meaning of Christmas was revealed. Far more than just a birthday celebration, it’s the story of God, who loved us so much, that he sent His one and only Son to earth to save us from our sins. And this wasn’t any easy journey. Jesus was born into a sinful world, faced extreme persecution and pain, and was ultimately sacrificed to atone for the sins of those who believe. Christmas is very special indeed.
PUTTING THE CHRISTMAS BACK IN YOUR MERRY
So how do we do this? How do we put Christ back in Christmas, glorify His Kingdom, and share His love? As you may have guessed, I’ve got some ideas on this too!
Create Meaningful Moments – In the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparation, so much gets pushed aside. Unfortunately, those neglected items are often people and moments-to-be which, in the grand scheme of things, are far more important than the other stuff allowed to consume your energy and overtake your schedule. Take a step back, leave wiggle room on your calendar, and cultivate time for meaningful moments to blossom.
Develop A Closer Relationship With Christ – It’s natural that we develop close relationships with those we spend the most time with. Jesus isn’t any different! Talk to Him, listen to Him, draw closer to Him, and ‘Be Still’ with Him. “Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10.
Bring Glory to His Kingdom – Frankly, it’s the ENTIRE reason we are here. Our words, actions, behaviors, and service should all point back to glorifying His Kingdom. This is not only true for every single day of the year, but most certainly and especially for Christmas as well.
Walk In Obedience To God – Sometimes rules and requests are looked upon as constricting, boring, or otherwise distasteful, but the truth is when you are obedient, there is often more peace, joy, and freedom found. Submitting to God’s Will for your life also gives Him the opportunity to bless you abundantly.
Train Up Your Kids Properly – This one is a biggie parents. The responsibility to train up our kids is an enormous gift from God and one that we should take seriously. For your children, making room for Jesus at Christmas can come just as naturally as it is to say ‘please and thank-you’ and buckling their seatbelts IF it is modeled for them during their formative years. Give them the gift that keeps on giving and foster a Christ-centered environment.
PUT YOUR HEART WHERE YOUR CHRISTMAS IS
Instead of planning Christmas and then sprinkling in a little bit of Jesus, why not make Christmas about Jesus first, and then sprinkle in a little bit of life?
Some other thoughts….
- Show Jesus by donating and performing acts of service.
- Emulate Jesus by simplifying and organizing for the Christmas holiday. Ditch any drama.
- Obey Jesus by practicing fiscal responsibility. If you’re going to shop, shop smart.
- Enjoy Jesus by embracing experiences. Have a ‘Mary’ Christmas and make time to sit at the Lord’s feet.
- Share Jesus by sowing into people’s lives. Share your testimony, speak truth in love, and extend invitations.
- Make room for Jesus by Inviting Him to Christmas. This isn’t just a physical invite, but a spiritual and emotional invite into your home, heart, and life. Invite Him to be present and participate in all that you do.
THIS Christmas can be different. There’s always room for improvement, even in the best case scenario, so commit to making room for Jesus, putting Him front and center, and watch the true magic of Christmas unfold.
What is your biggest obstacle to making sure your Christmas is first about Jesus?
About My Guest
Lindon & Sherry Gareis, founders of Action Plan Ministries, are Christian Life Coaches from sunny Arizona who have a passion for helping people declutter their lives. Utilizing their combined personal and professional experience, they equip, encourage and inspire others through purposeful advice and practical application. The Gareises, AKA Grammy & Grampy, enjoy writing, boating, hiking or smoking a mean rack of ribs with family and friends. They love spending time together and are committed to a lifelong honeymoon.
To read more about the Gareis’s, click here.
If you’d like to read my review of the study based on their book, please click here.