The following column is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not those of The Georgia Virtue.
By: Dr. William F. Holland Jr., minister, chaplain, and author of the column series ‘Living on Purpose’. You can read more about the Christian life and see other works by Dr. Holland at billyhollandministries.com.
The holiday season is called the most wonderful time of the year but between buying gifts, hosting parties, trying not to break your healthy habits (or the bank), and attending family gatherings, it can also be the most stressful time of the year. Once again, we are trying to figure out what to give people who already have everything they need.
Come to think of it, I’m trying to understand how we went from the wise men bringing gifts to Christ as an act of worship to the ritual of giving gifts to each other? I don’t remember Mary and Joseph exchanging presents with the shepherds, or Bethlehem being decorated with tinsel and ribbons.
Yes, there is widespread affection for the magical stories and traditions that we are accustomed to, but we also understand that much of our holiday festivities have little to do with Christ. Not to mention that children are taught that Santa has the same abilities as God. Nonetheless, for those who would rather focus on a more spiritual meaning, we are reminded of the angel’s message to Mary in Luke 1:35, “The holy child that you will give birth to will be called the Son of God.”
This has been a sad Christmas especially for those who live in our state. On December 10th we were on stage ready to perform our annual Christmas production with our local theater, when suddenly people’s phones started lighting up. A plane had crashed just a few miles away as the pilot and his passenger were a part of our community that were dearly loved. Early the next morning, a powerful tornado stayed on the ground for over 100 miles and devastated the Western part of our state. As of this writing, 77 people lost their lives, and many lost everything they had. Let us keep these families in our prayers and may we remember to appreciate every moment we have. We are reminded that in all things God is absolutely good and from the words of a popular Christmas song, we humbly bow and proclaim, “O come let us adore Him – Christ the Lord.”
If there was ever a reason to celebrate, it would be to tell the world that Jesus Christ is the Savior who came to deliver us from sin and a doomed eternity. He is the Master of the universe, the Creator of all things, and is forever the way, the truth, and the life. It would have been much easier for the Almighty to send us a Hallmark card expressing how much He cares about us, but instead, He wanted to demonstrate and prove His love by sending His Son to be our Redeemer. He is now patiently waiting for people to decide if they will live for Him or themselves. It’s no secret the temptation to become entangled in commercialism can distract us from the true reason for the season, and I suppose this qualifies people like me as being a Grinch. However, in my defense, if you’ve read, “The gift of the Magi” we see there is a significant difference between wisdom and being impulsive and that love is the real meaning of life – not materialism. Anyway, there is genuine peace and comfort in knowing that Christ is filled with endless mercy and compassion for everyone. Because of His humble entrance into this realm to save those who believe, we can sing His praises, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.”
So what does Christ want for Christmas? Among the flying reindeer, the abominable snowman, and magical elves, may we humbly realize that all God has ever wanted is our heart. Galatians 4:19 is not usually considered a Christmas text, but the Apostle Paul makes a very interesting statement, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Is this not an appropriate time to declare our need for Jesus to be born into our lives? A holy truth that never becomes old or outdated and is as life-changing today as it was the moment Jesus appeared. The greatest Christmas miracle would be for Christ to be born in all of us. Do you have room for Him in your life? May we consider the familiar lines of, O Little Town of Bethlehem, “O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend on us we pray, cast out our sins and enter in, be born in us today.”