I wish I could say that I am the epitome of a CHRIST-centered follower of Jesus. I wish I could tell you that in celebrating Christmas, I am focused on the coming of the King and not on the gifts I can give (and get). Honestly, though, I have always struggled during this time of year. In fact, I struggle every time of the year. The struggle – to live a selfless life centered on the gospel rather than a selfish life of comfort and materialism.
More than ever, though, this year I am aware of this struggle. This year I am broken as I consider my sin. This year I am burdened as I consider how much I have and how little the vast majority of the world has. This year I am overwhelmed at how much money we spend on unnecessary gifts…temporary treasures. This year I am especially aware of the Advent – the coming of the awesome Son of God.
Do my gifts to Him matter as much as my gifts from others and for others? Does my time with Him matter as much as my time with family and friends? Does my devotion to Him supersede my devotion to this temporary life? Do my sacrifices for His sake outweigh my desire for ease and comfort?
Too often, the answer to those questions is no. Yet, I declare to the world that I am a follower of Jesus. I am a Christian. Jesus Himself said, however, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). Simple yet impossible. Lord help me!
I believe this overwhelming conviction and greater awareness this year is twofold. First of all, the Lord Jesus is at work in my heart and in my life. I have put my faith in Him for the forgiveness of my sins and for my eternal salvation, so He is doing a work in and through me. He is changing me like only He can. I am not a better person than I was last year, and I am certainly not a better person than anyone else. But, my Savior – He is better. He is perfect. He is the only One who can save and the only One who transforms lives. He is molding me into His image.
The other thing that has given me a greater awareness this year – my dad died four months ago Saturday. He was only 57 years old and had been, up until he was diagnosed with cancer less than two years before his death, a very strong and healthy man. Growing up, I always believed the holidays were all about family. This year more than ever, though, I see how even family can be taken away. Even family, as we know it on this side of eternity, is temporary. Don’t get me wrong – I believe family is very important, but I also believe our hope and peace are not found in family. Only God gives hope and peace, as only His family lives eternally.
If you believe Christmas is all about family, you will be sorely disappointed in the end. Christmas is all about Christ. Family is all about Christ. If Christ is not central in your celebrations, in your motivations and in your conversations, then He is not your Lord. If He is not your Lord, then you are not His follower. If you are not His follower, then you are not a part of His family. If you are not a part of His family, you have nothing to look forward to after this life.
I plead with you seek the same gift that I am so challenged, burdened and overwhelmed to seek…the only gift that is eternal – the salvation of our God. This gift is found when we surrender to and follow Jesus. Follow Him. Only then will you truly have a merry Christmas and find the joy and satisfaction that a materialistic Christmas just can’t provide.
For more information on how you can have a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ, please click on the link below.