I spent many a Christmas morning squirming in my seat as my Dad read the Christmas story. Jesus was good and all but the gifts were right there across the way under the tree. Happiness was so close but still we had to wait. A few minutes later, the candles were lit, the songs were sung, and we were off to open presents.
Keeping a Christ centered focus is hard even at Christmas. We have to overcome our faulty perceptions of the world. We all long for heroes atop tall steeds, charging across the battlefield. We fawn over movie stars who earn millions on the Big Screen via the good looks and handsome charm. And we appeal to credentialed Ph.D.’s for advice and counsel. We naturally want to follow the powerful, beautiful, and intelligent.
Christ comes wrapped clothes and laid in a manger. He appeared lowly. He wasn’t even allowed in the inn. He humbled himself. And now he calls us to die to self and to put the needs of others before our own. We find this strange. We naturally reject the message of the nativity that calls us worship Christ. We love ourselves. We want the gifts of God that will magnify us and our ego.
And so this Christmas season, we must not be surprised to see the world get wrapped up with gifts, commercialism, and self-exaltation. We must not be surprised to see our kids value Christmas traditions more than Jesus.
After all, Santa strokes the modern ego far more effectively than Christ. He gives gifts to good girls and boys. And we all like to think of ourselves as good. In fact, most of us can actually attain the Santa standard. Seen anyone get coal lately? The doctrine of self-forgetfulness is offensive to our nature even at Christmas. But is it true. And there is no life apart from it. To truly live, we must die to ourselves.
We must fight the world perceptions. We must seek to be lowly like our savior. We must seek to put others before ourselves. To keep Christ in Christmas, we must remember who are savior was. Then we must seek to be like him.