One of the first presents under our Christmas tree this year is wrapped in a bag with the word “Believe” written across it. Every time I look at the bag, I wonder what do we REALLY believe about Christmas? Who or what are we celebrating this year?
Although we say Christmas is about Jesus and our intention is to celebrate His birth, our actions can often give us a different perspective of reality. Sometimes, somewhere between intention and action, our focus can change.
Without even realizing it, we can get caught up in the “have-to” dynamics of the season. We feel we have to get the tree up and the house decorated. We have to buy gifts for family and friends and bake goodies for colleagues and neighbors. We have to wrap presents, attend concerts and plan parties. We have to order cards, print letters and box and ship packages. We have to purchase Christmas Eve dresses for our little girls and darling sweater outfits for our little boys, in addition to the brand new pajamas for our children to wear on Christmas morning as they unwrap their brand-new toys.
All of this we say we do in celebration of Jesus and His birth.
Yet, Jesus was never about the “have-to.” In fact, He was all about the “don’t-have-to.” We don’t have to worry, fear or doubt. We don’t have to hunger or thirst. We don’t have to feel condemned, ashamed or guilty. We don’t have to walk in darkness, wander aimlessly or wonder if we will ever measure up or be good enough. We don’t have to, at all or anymore, because of Jesus.
His was the ultimate gift exchange. He came into the world, showed us a different way to live and offered His life for our sins. But it didn’t end there. He came back—to let us know the price is paid, and He’s still around.
And then, as if that wasn’t enough, He gave us a second part to the gift. Without us having to clean up or dress up, He sent His Spirit into the darkness of our lives to bring light and order to His new dwelling place. And there He resides today with each of His believers—guiding us to make better choices, letting us experience His peace and filling us with His joy.
Jesus’ birth ultimately made it possible for us to become dwelling places of the Almighty God. It doesn’t get any better than that! This is what I want to celebrate!
As we prepare for Christmas this year, I invite you to join me in discovering ways we can intentionally celebrate Christ, and not become overwhelmed with the "have-tos." I pray we will all find rest in the ultimate gift exchange.