*This post was originally published 12/17/15 but has now been revised, updated, and re-published.
I've been having so much fun lately with the Christmas lights, the happy overload of both Christmas cookies and Christmas music, and the wonderfully bad, low-budget Christmas movies. I am officially in Kristin-Christmas-Tradition-Heaven.
It's such a great feeling to truly enjoy all of the holiday scents, tastes, noises, and sights. I get warm-fuzzies every time I think about it. And even though I'm thankful for those things, at some point, the warm-fuzzies that are caused by small, fairly-unimportant things have to take a step back. Because at the core what we really need is a deep reflection on the true meaning of Christmas.
And as a little disclaimer, it is entirely possible to have fun and reflect on the deeper things of life at the same time. In my pondering and celebrating the real meaning of Christmas, I will still be eating just as many cookies, singing just as many songs, and watching just as many Christmas movies. But while doing this, I will make sure that the more important things in life come first- while the silly things come second.
"Jesus is the reason for the season". This is very true.
But I am sure you've heard that a million times and you may be thinking, "Yeah, but what does that mean...what does it really mean?"
Well, the story of Jesus' birth is found in Luke 2 in the Bible. If you've never read it, or you need a refresher, you can read it here.
You see, a lot of people "know" that Christmas is about Jesus- a little baby who was called the son of God, and born in a stable. Great. But many people don't go past that.
The thing is though, it's when you go past the basics that you truly begin to understand the meaning of Christmas. Go past the fact that Jesus was born to a young girl who had never had sex. Go past what you know about wise men, bright stars, and a feeding trough for a bed. Then you will start to see the point of this beautiful holiday season!
And what is the point?
Guilt and LoveThe point is, from the very beginning of our lives, we are sinful people. We aren't innocent. We aren't good enough. We make mistakes every day that pull us further and further away from God.
But since God loves us, He wanted to bring us back to Him. He is a holy God though, so He couldn't just act like our sin was acceptable- because it's not. He needed a perfect person to take the punishment we deserved. And what is that punishment? Death. Not just a typical death either. No, an eternal death.
God knew that if He didn't step in, our sin would keep us from Him and His love for eternity. So God sent Jesus.
But why? What could a baby do?
Well, as baby Jesus grew up, He never sinned. He was human, and yet He was God at the very same time. He stood firm against the sins that we give into. He was the only perfect person.
So when the Jews decided to kill Jesus, they were killing a perfect, spotless man.
God planned the death of Jesus as a sacrifice for all sin. Jesus took our death sentence and He served it Himself. But since He had the power of God living in Him (because He is God), He was actually able to defeat the death sentence He was serving for us.
Now no one has to pay the penalty of sin- Jesus already did.
God did all of the work. The only thing He requires of us is that we believe and trust in Jesus as the savior- that His death paid the full penalty of our sins just like God said it did. All we have to do is trust in Jesus and His blood as the saving grace we desperately needed.
That is the gospel in a nutshell, and the gospel is what Christmas is all about.
It's not about how many wisemen went to see Jesus when He was born. It's not even about the fact that Jesus' mom was a virgin (though that is important). No, Christmas is about a Savior- the only Savior- who came to live, die, and defeat death for us. Christmas is about God's goodness, despite our utter and constant failure.
Christmas is about the cross.
Check Your ResponseChristmas is a humbling experience.
But please, don't get all caught up in how you don't like being told you are a sinner. I don't like it either, but it's true.
I tell half-truths or occasionally even lie. I look out for myself instead of others. I care far too much about my weight, my curves, my personality, and other people's opinions. I try to one-up other people so that I can be the best. I complain about nearly everything that doesn't go my way.
And chances are, you do the same things. You and I are imperfect people, in need of a Savior.
So check your response. Don't be mad that God confronts you and your sin. Instead, be thankful that you don't have to serve your death sentence. Accept Jesus as the Savior He is. Spend Christmas with new-found joy that you don't have to be hand-cuffed to your sin anymore.
Christmas is about praising God because He gave us what we needed. God is love. That is what Christmas is really about!