Some seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah described the Savior we now celebrate at Christmas: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
A quiet whisper nags my heart as I frantically tackle Christmas preparations: “What are we doing?!?!”
I’m pushing through, hauling a burden rather than resting in His blessing. It’s a spiritual thing, not a physical one. That’s why it’s unbearable. That’s what makes me question: If all this Christmas craziness is a heavy burden, if it is hard not easy, if it creates madness rather than rest, is it of Christ? After all, He says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).
I wonder if we’ve got it all wrong. If anyone deserves all we have to give, it’s the Lord. Yet, the way it is now, He often gets the least.
HE is Prince of Peace, yet we celebrate with chaos. HE is Mighty God, yet the mighty dollar rules and reigns as we buy decorations, teacher gifts, family gifts, groceries and supplies for parties and meals, costumes for pageants, tickets for Christmas performances, gas for road trips, and so on. HE is Wonderful, yet the hustle and bustle, the buying and receiving, the going and doing covertly diverts our attention from marveling Him. HE is Counselor, yet distractions keep us from receiving His counsel. HE is Everlasting Father, yet we long to please those around us, sometimes forgetting He is to be pleased over all.
If we’re honest with ourselves, none of these traditions of men are about Jesus, yet we strive to make Christmas about Christ. We agonize over the tragedy of droves of retailers who welcome the financial windfall of Christmas but forbid use of the word. Why do you think it’s so hard? Perhaps it’s because it was never about Christ in the first place.
Research the true origin of Christmas, and you’ll quickly discover its roots as a celebration of the sun, not the Son. I encourage you to do your own research, if you dare. Proceed with caution, however. What you find might challenge your traditions and participation. Here’s just a scratch of the surface.
The date coincides with a pagan sun festival that precedes Christ’s birth, which according to scriptural evidence could not possibly have been in December and was never celebrated by the early church. Emperor Constantine first established it as an official Roman Catholic holiday in 336 AD because parishioners who converted to Christianity continued to participate in the long-standing pagan feast, giving gifts to children and the poor, decorating with lights and greenery, drinking, eating, and being merry. In order to make it Christian, the emperor established December 25 as the birth date of Christ, and so it continues.
Christmas is clearly a tradition of man, against which Colossians 2:8 warns: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”
Traditions that follow the principles of the world cheat us. They lie to us and leave us spent, like Christmas can. But not Christ. He is all Isaiah said He would be: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty, God, Everlasting, Father, Peace. All power, dominion, and control are His. When we follow His principles, we have what He is.
So where does that leave us? Could it be so ingrained in our American culture because it is the devil’s attempt to deceive and cheat us according to the principles of the world rather than living according to Christ? If it is, sadly, it’s effective.
I don’t have the answers. My prayer is that each of us would be so surrendered to the Father that we are willing to give up anything that is not of Him. Even Christmas, if that’s what He asks.
In the meantime, if Christmas is about Jesus, then let’s make it about Jesus. Instead of exhausting ourselves hanging lights, decorating trees, throwing and going to parties, shopping, wrapping, and reveling in holiday cheer, let’s be a light, pursue the lost and hurting, give to the poor, and above all, give all we have to Him. Not just for a day or a season, but every day.
I can hear my girls now: “Great, now mom’s going to take away Christmas! We’ve lost Target, Costco, Starbucks, and now Christmas. When will it end?”
That’s a great question, isn’t it? When will it end? When will we truly separate ourselves from the world in such a way that Jesus stands out? Are we really ready to become wholly His? To cross over the line of belonging only to Him, even if it means looking foolish to the world?
“It’s too much, Lord!!!” I cry in my heart.
“Is it really, Shauna?” He asks. “More than what Jesus did for you on the cross?”
May His peace rule and reign in your heart today as you surrender to become more wholly His this Christmas season.