If a person from another planet – one who had never heard of Christmas – were to observe the American people as we went about our holiday traditions during the month of December, what conclusions do you think they would come to concerning what Christmas is all about? Given the amount of time we spend at shopping centers and malls, perhaps they would assume that Christmas is all about the purchasing and exchanging of gifts. Or seeing the increased travel plans (flight reservations, road trips, and hotel accommodations) during the latter part of December, they might logically conclude that Christmas is all about family gatherings. Or taking into account all of the baking, the turkeys, and all the trimmings, it could easily be thought that the purpose of Christmas centers around fabulous meals and fun-filled parties. And then there is Santa Claus, the reindeer, and the North Pole, not to mention Santa’s elves and their bustling toy shop.
Like you, I enjoy many of these aforementioned celebrations of the season. Whose sweet tooth does not enjoy freshly-baked Christmas cookies or smooth pumpkin pie? And don’t most of us enjoy seeing family members that we haven’t seen in a while? But it all makes me wonder if the uninformed observer would walk away with the understanding that Christmas is the time of year that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Do we highlight all of these secondary items to the point that they overshadow the birthday of God’s virgin-born Son?
As we scurry about during this Christmas season, there are many activities and many opportunities that can draw us away from the worship of the baby boy born in Bethlehem so long ago. Most, if not all, of these activities may be quite good and very meaningful, but it’s possible to allow the good to overshadow what is best. So I challenge you to examine your schedule – to take a look at your priorities for the next few days. Is your mind focused on Christ? Are you setting aside time in your planning to worship and serve Him?
Benjamin Franklin said, “How many observe Christ’s birthday. How few His precepts. O ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.” The vast majority of Americans will celebrate Christmas next week, but merely observing a holiday does not necessarily mean that you have honored the significance of the day. So let us put intentional focus into, not simply celebrating Christmas, but honoring Christ by giving Him our heart and life.