Posted 4 years ago
It's interesting: Christmas is supposed to be "the most wonderful time of the year." Yet, for many, it's become something it was never supposed to be.
I suppose the downfall of the true meaning of Christmas started at the very beginning of its being celebrated-- when a particular monk attempted to figure out when Christ was born, and he calculated it improperly (Jesus was likely born in Spring). But that's not what lead to it becoming something it wasn't supposed to be.
Instead, the Christians did a wonderful thing. They included aspects of other cultures in their celebration so it would not alienate others. Converts from other religions and backgrounds could celebrate Christmas with different symbols, such as trees (the Old Testament actually says to not adorn trees. Go figure) and wreathes and pretty baubles.
The issue is, while opening the door to make others feel welcome, they opened the door to the possibility of losing the true meaning of Christmas. You see, instead of focusing on the gift God gave us, they began to focus on material things.
Now, they didn't mean for these material things to bring them away from God. Many of these things they made to celebrate God and enjoy each other. That's great, but they became misused.
God gave us a gift, so they began to give gifts too. To create a more festive air and include other cultural practices (as they were called to go out into the world) they began to decorate. But these decorations can be truly mesmerizing, can't they? They can cause us to focus on them rather than what is truly important.
We do that today, too. We get caught up in plans that typically don't go as we want. We get caught up in having the best Christmas decorations, buying the best gifts for those we care about-- gifts better than the ones from last year-- making the most perfect meals, remembering to mail pre-written, standardised Christmas cards, etc.
And it ruins Christmas.
Jesus Christ, God-incarnate, the human form of love, kindness, forgiveness, and a better way (things Christians often forget to be, I'm afraid), is what we were supposed to celebrate.
His birth fulfilled the scriptures (interestingly, if I remember, there were two Bethlehems, and he was born in the correct of the two). His birth set off the end of sacrifice for forgiveness and upset a powerful king (who tried to have him killed several months later [not the same night] when the Magi [nothing in Scripture says there were 3, by the way] just because he felt threatened.
They fled to Egypt when it was revealed to them that Herod, the jealous king, wanted to kill the child. There was little celebration of his birth. He was just a baby born to a poor carpenter and girl who was shamed by those around her because she became pregnant before becoming married. They both accepted it as God's will and followed Him, all the while not knowing what would happen next as He had basically just set this young couple in charge of the most important thing in the world.
And Jesus brought about a most important thing in the world:A huge religion. In fact, from a anthropological view, Christianity came about because of Jesus, and Islam-- the second largest world religion-- would be partially influenced by him (albeit its roots are in Judaism).
Religion to me is just a institution of man-- one to inspire people to hold to some kind of social order and moral beliefs. I have religion (albeit I hate what it's becoming, especially knowing there are over 2,000 arguing branches to the one faith all "Christians" are supposed to hold), and I have a relationship with God that is based of the Bible I do fully believe in (faith like a child, as Jesus would later call it-- and then add that it is the only way into Heaven).
And God has a relationship with us. From the first book of the Bible, we learn that God is three in one (for those who have a hard time understanding this, I like to describe it as shampoo, conditioner, and body soap-- three different things that the brand Head & Shoulders has made into one).
Yet, God loved us enough to separate a part of Him-- Jesus-- to give to us as that most perfect gift (then He, as Jesus, eventually had to depart the Earth and left us with another part: the Holy Spirit, which resides in all who are true Christians [and gives about three spiritual gifts to each]).
Jesus came to give a message of love. He did sometimes feel anger, but His was a righteous anger (nothing in the Bible says anger itself is bad. It just warns us to not sin in it). He judged but also always rebuked-- rather than punish, He warned and gave us a way to escape the fate we would find if we continued down a certain wrong path(s).
He didn't come to condemn the world. He came to save it because He loves us. In fact, He loves us so much that He-- the most innocent one to have ever existed-- allowed us to nail those spikes through His hands and feet, allowed us to whip Him, strip Him down, spit on Him, yell lies and insults and mock Him-- all so He could forgive! And thus, we were forgiven-- we who kill Him every time we sin.
And He taught us a new way of life (hence why He got killed, because He was considered a threat by both Romans and the leading religious teachers of the Jewish world).
He taught us to live for Him, to be His ambassadors on Earth. He warned us that we may have no place to rest our heads and may be rejected even by our own people if we follow Him, but to those who accept His gift He will give an eternal life of joy with Him in Heaven one day.
And that is what we forget to celebrate: The birthday of a gift that has changed the world and the lives of anyone who truly accepts it-- but be warned, there are many who claim they have accepted it but do not actually have it. They fool us. They may even fool themselves. But by their fruits (what they say and do) they will be known for what they truly are.
The fruit of the Spirit is good-- more so than any sparkly ornament, pretty light, or cliche fruitcake. The gift God offers to you-- one you can take at any time-- is better than any gift that anyone else could give to you. His gift is the most selfless, beneficial, kind gift. So give Him yourself just as He has given you His son.
It's called love. Remember to love Him rather than the season. Jesus IS the reason for the season.