By Allen White
When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. Matthew 2:10-12
Black Friday starts at 10 pm on Thanksgiving Day at Wal-mart. What better reason to get away from the family than by buying their Christmas gifts. But, let me ask you a question: what did you give and get for Christmas last year? Are your kids still playing with those toys? Are the clothes still worn? How much is in your garage or attic?
We live in a world of excess. I know, you need to do your part to stimulate the economy. And, don’t get me wrong. You and I can express the gift of Christmas through gifts. I’m not anti-gift. I am pro-gift. I will send a list upon request. But, so much of Christmas really has nothing to do with Christ.
One of the biggest problems of this Christmas 2011 is that it falls on Sunday. Many people don’t want to go to church on Christmas even though Christ is the reason for the “Christ Mass” and the reason we even go to church in the first place. Family traditions have overtaken a significant Christian holiday. (I get a double whammy – Easter falls on our wedding anniversary in 2012).
Will we go to Hell if we splurge on Black Friday or stay home and eat brunch on Christmas Sunday? Absolutely not. In fact, if we shopped every day and never went to church, we could still escape Hell. Salvation doesn’t rely on our works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
But, would you agree that Christmas has become excessive? And, for most of us, would you acknowledge that Christmas is not your birthday? What are you giving to Jesus on His birthday?
The Magi gave Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh. No rattles. No Baby Einstein DVDs (for the record: Einstein didn’t have any DVDs. Jus’ sayin’).
Gold was a gift for royalty. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Frankincense was burned as an offering to God. It expressed His divinity even as a newborn baby. Myrrh was a burial spice. This represented the fulfillment of His mission on this earth.
The heart of Christmas centers on God’s love for us. “God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16). Jesus came to serve and to offer His life as a ransom for ours (Matthew 20:28). Mary and Joseph didn’t exchange gifts with the shepherds. Jesus was their gift.
Jesus’ gifts from the Magi represent His identity, His offering, and His sacrifice. Jesus gave His all to have a birthday. What are we giving Jesus for His birthday? You don’t need to scrap everyone’s Christmas gifts and give only to Jesus. But, if Jesus wrote a letter to Santa (that’s weird), what would He wish for?
Here are some things to think about this Christmas:
1. Set a budget for your Christmas spending. Don’t presumptuously spend beyond your means because of the irresistibly deep discounts.
2. Buy presents for your loved ones.
3. Buy a present for Jesus. Join me in giving to Jesus through the ministry of Water of Life. [LINK] Water of Life provides fresh water in West Africa and India alongside church planting. People without fresh water and without Christ are receiving both. Let’s give Jesus a water well this Christmas. Water of Life will inscribe “A gift from Jesus Christ” on the well. To donate, click here: http://my.givefreshwater.org/fundraisers/touch-the-untouchables/
4. Take time to reflect on the meaning of Christmas on December 25. Whether you venture out to a Christmas service or read the Christmas story with your family, take a few minutes on Christmas to reflect on God’s love for you in sending His Son.