Every December, the warriors prepare themselves for the battle over Christmas. Loyal Christians fight the good fight by refusing to say, “Happy Holidays.” Others go to battle defending our right to call our trees “Christmas trees” instead of holiday trees. And God forbid if people write the words “X-mas.”
There is a war going on over Christmas.
But the war that people claim there to be isn’t the real fight. If Target wishes you “Happy Holidays” it probably isn’t the end of all things holy; in fact the etymology of holiday would actually suggest they believe it is a “holy day.” @@The war on Christmas is very real and it’s not found in the words we use.@@
The war on Christmas is a spiritual battle for our worship. And the best thing the devil does is distract us from the real war by making us focus on other battles.
The real war on Christmas is a war for our worship.
As the lights go up, the items on the list get checked off, the parties get survived, and the budgets get broke, what gets our time, energy, and affections? Even from a young age we are taught that Christmas is about presents, parties, and good behavior.
While many of us are diligent in bearing our arms in order to defend our beloved Christmas, we then turn around and worship something other than the one who was born to set us free from that which enslaves us. The baby who was born on Christmas sets people free, yet many of us are enslaving ourselves to the worship of new, better, bigger, and more.
The problem is that as we repeatedly learn to want more and more and more, we are drawn actually feel like we need more and more and more. And as good American consumers, everything about the season is created specifically so that you feel like you need more. But in those moments when we feel the need for a new flatscreen or the latest pair of Uggs, what is our heart clinging to?
This is an important question… what is your heart clinging to?
The gifts aren’t bad. I love to spoil my family with gifts; it’s one of the ways I can show my affection to them. My wife loves to get gifts, therefore I love to get them for her… that’s not a bad thing. But when we rely on the stuff to fill a void that’s been missing in the months leading up to Christmas, we will be gravely disappointed. When the joy of Christmas comes from the stuff of Christmas instead of the person of Christmas, we’ll be left with a post-Christmas hangover and looking for our next fix.
Martin Luther said, “Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God.”
The war on Christmas is a battle over our hearts.
The devil wants our hearts and he knows that he can use stuff, busyness, and debates over a holiday to distract us. And in the meantime, our heart starts to look to something other than the person the holiday is all about.
Christmas is about receiving.
It’s obviously not all about receiving; Jesus himself was the one who taught, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” But despite the importance of giving, Christmas is still primarily about receiving. The problem with consumerism at Christmas isn’t a problem with receiving, it’s with receiving the wrong thing.
Martin Luther suggested, “The Gospel bids us to hold the sack open and have something given to us.” The Gospel isn’t about finally making it onto the nice list, it’s about being given a gift even though you can’t get off the naughty list. The Gospel has nothing to do with what we have to give and everything to do with what we receive.
We are the beggars we have nothing to offer back to God. We instead simply open up our bags and receive whatever gets put in.
At Christmas, we receive the gifts that Jesus wants to give to us. But instead of the gifts that run out of batteries or quickly get lost in the closet, the Gospel continues to give to us each day. We are given the gifts that we need more than we want. In the midst of our sins and failures we are given grace and mercy. In the midst of hurt and pain, we are given hope. We are promised, “I will be with you always.”
@@The war going on doesn’t want you to receive this gift.@@
Instead it will give you all kinds of other options - another drink that can make you forget about the pain, new clothes that can help you temporarily forget your insecurities, a new television so you can mentally disengage from the stress of this world. But none of these things actually give you the gift you need.
Instead, receive the gifts that came in a small town, with a crying baby in a dirty stable. Cling to that gift.