Presents, relatives, memories, nostalgia, holidays and relationships. Out of all the many things that make up the holiday season, ultimately Christmas is about you.
This year, my wife and I are already way ahead on the Christmas movie schedule. My all-time favourite, The Muppet Christmas Carol, has already made an appearance, as well as The Santa Clause, The Grinch (Jim Carrey), and the new Grinch with Benedict Cumberbatch. On top of the movies, the tree was up in early December, we have already been to multiple Christmas parties, and I’ve added a new Santa hat into the rotation.
The shopping centres were busier earlier than normal, so our last minute Christmas presents were obtained with much greater ease than the ones planned in advance. A bit of a change for the year, but nonetheless the Westfields and other shopping centres have featured people madly running around to give their friends and loved ones a special morning.
There are so many other facets to Christmas besides the movies you watch and the presents you buy. There’s also the nostalgic, happy memories associated with the day. Memories of childhood greatness like the day my brother and I got the original Mario Tennis on Nintendo 64. That was such a fun morning. You would have memories in a similar fashion, perhaps of an early fruit mince pie with the smell of some sort of roast in the oven getting ready for a hearty lunch.
There is also a tone of sadness around Christmas time. Not all memories are pleasant, with a recent report indicating more than two million Australians feel isolated or disheartened by the holiday season. It’s a time where happy memories can turn sour, or where past associations with the day can still be there like a sword in your mind all these years later.
And it’s a time for giving. For selflessness. Words like charity and generosity are prevalent around this time of year. It’s an important time of the year to enjoy the true gift of giving gifts, of being a servant to others, of loving them with all that you have.
And yet with all the tinsel, the the psychological effects, the joy, and the presents, something gets lost in the mix.
Because ultimately, Christmas is about you.
It seems like a kind of backwards thing to think about at the time of year for generosity. Even from the perspective of the Christian origins/adaptation of the holiday season, we are generous because of generosity. It’s right there in the story of the Nativity, of Jesus coming to earth, of new birth, of such a significant event in world history that our calendar still remains divided into two main parts because of it.
It’s truly a noble thing to be generous to others. In fact, I would like to encourage it. But I also don’t want you to miss the significance of what was given, nor the significance of your worth and value during a time of year that seems to be dominated by thought for others.
Because while you may have your mind and calendar devoted to the betterment and true joy of others, the original Christmas shows that heaven’s mind was devoted to yours.
Life can be hard. It’s full of questions and uncertainty. And it’s tainted and corrupted by the horrible decisions and actions that people take against each other. Even those little white lies or “things that don’t seem to be such a big deal” can leave scars and impacts that last for generations, until one day someone wakes up and tries to do something about them. We justify so many decisions other people make and that we make ourselves, and yet the catastrophe in our global world and even our personal world reveals the truth.
Enter Jesus. For every tear you’ve ever cried, for every mistake you’ve ever made, for the weight you feel on your shoulders and the thoughts that keep you up at night, this unassuming baby boy represents the ultimate sacrifice and humility of a king.
There’s a Christmas carol that always gets me, “A Strange Way to Save The World”. This line here – “To think of how it could have been, if Jesus had come as he deserved“. What a sobering thought. The arrival of God on earth should have been the ultimate spectacle. Every nation on earth should have been at attention. Every question you’ve ever had should have been at the ready. The red carpet should have been rolled out with every ruler on earth doing their best to prepare for the arrival of the king.
And yet it was humble. Almost insultingly so. Creator becomes dependent on creation. Omnipresent becomes tactile. And he didn’t even get to live a very long life. He only lived 33 years on earth.
And he didn’t do anything wrong. It wasn’t his fault the world was so stuffed up. It wasn’t his fault your heart got broken or your family torn apart. He didn’t rape or murder or deceive or covet anyone. And yet here he was, paying the price to live a life to demonstrate one thing –
Just how much value you truly have.
For the joy set before him, this Jesus would endure the cross. Yeah okay big whoop, lots of people died on crosses. But the cross of Jesus represented more than physical pain, it represented the denial and corruption of the embodiment of perfection. He felt our rejection so we would never have to feel his. Like a dove that is dipped in tar, this Jesus became saturated in the mistakes and willing corruption of mankind.
And not just corporately, but also individually. Your corruption. Your pain. Your shortcomings. Every hurt you’ve ever endured. Every injustice you’ve ever had to live through. He took it all on himself.
Like the song said, he didn’t deserve it. And yet he chose it, deliberately, in a calculated matter, for you. Because the joy set before him was you. You living your little life. You and what you think is an ordinary little existence. You and your frailty and uncertainty.
If God would kill his own son for you, what does that say about how truly valuable you are?
Christmas is about you.
I know you may doubt yourself. I know you may see yourself as not worthwhile. I know you may think your mistakes and decisions have made you a write off in your own sight. And yet God saw you as having such great worth that he wouldn’t spare his own son on your behalf.
When you allow that to truly invade who you are, you could never doubt yourself ever again. You could never look down on who you are again. You are free from your low expectations and poor opinion you have of yourself and who you are. You are free of thinking even for a second that you have no purpose or significance to anyone, as Christmas is loudly screaming over your self doubts and all the other damning voices –
You are worth it!
And from that place, we see the true standard for generosity at Christmas time. Forsaking the welcome and the life that was deserved, Jesus chose humility, and didn’t consider his equality with God as something to hold on to.
What do you deserve this Christmas? What expectations do you have on others? How should people treat you?
This Christmas, see the value that you carry. Let it set you free from the things that have been weighing your heart down.
And from that place, help others to see the same thing. That they are valued, loved, and worthwhile. What a terrible reality in our world today that so few people know that in their heart and mind. They live their whole existence running from their lack of worth, filling their life with frivolity, running the rat race like hamsters on a wheel, trying to find significance in things that never could fill the void within.
When you know you are loved, you are empowered to show others that they are loved and valued. Beyond what you deserve, beyond what they deserve, in the same way that Jesus forsook what he deserved, so too you are able to instill a sense of true value in the hearts of the people around you.
So Merry Christmas. Christmas is about you. I hope this year that you see that reality in your own life, and in turn are able to pass on the message.
Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. Wonderful counsellor. Mighty God. Everlasting Father. The prince of peace. The one whose peace will transcend all understanding and guard your heart and mind this holiday season, and through all the other seasons of life.
NB. People have been convinced by groupthink and secularism that the Christian story is a fairytale, when in reality there is more evidence for the acts and life of Jesus than your own existence. If you have such concerns, I would encourage you to actually seek out the origins of the Christian story, and see why this belief system has been the foundation of modern society. There are few better times than Christmas to address this side of your life. I wrote a bit more about my take on faith and secularism in 7 Reasons Why Atheism Makes No Sense To Me.