As humans, we have a unique way of turning a blessing into a burden. We assume responsibilities never meant to be our own. We tie strings and conditions making simple things fussy and good things overwhelming. And we’re left with trying to rush through what we should be enjoying, dreading what we should be celebrating, and totally missing the point.
It’s now December. This is the month 35% of us go into debt to buy Christmas presents, and 20% of us are still trying to pay off last year’s Christmas debt. 52% of us most dread wrapping those Christmas presents. 42% of us are anxious or depressed over the holidays. 61% of us are totally dreading Christmas.
Happy Holidays, y’all.
And this is what we’ve done to Jesus’ birthday. This is how we remember the greatest gift ever given to us. We’ve screwed this all up.
I feel the Holy Spirit whispering, “This was never meant to be a burden.”
We miss the point. But we don’t miss it all on our own. That’s the plan of the enemy. Miss the point of Christmas. Dread this. He has twisted our celebration of the gift of Jesus into an overwhelming obligation of show. And we’ve participated in this twisting and bought into the chaos.
When my kids were little, they weren’t allowed to touch any of my MANY Christmas trees in the house. They were a show, and they were perfect. Christmas outfits were matching and photos were miserable. The kids were hyper and I was on edge. I bought things I couldn’t afford to buy, only to watch it never played with. And Jesus was impressed with none of this.
Why? Because I, once again, totally forgot to be impressed by him. I wasn’t thinking about the Creator of the Universe coming to Earth in human form to rescue and save me. I wasn’t thinking about the miracle of Jesus. I was thinking about impressive decorations, an impressive gift for the exchange, impressive cookies for the neighborhood, and impressive photos to document it all.
The most wonderful time of the year had become the most expensive, most hectic, most stressful time of the year. Oh, and yeah, there’s Jesus too.
Hebrews 12:2 MSG, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed.”
We’ve lost sight of what we’re doing and now we’re doing all these things out of burden rather than blessing.
The solution: Keep your eyes on Jesus.
Everything we do for Christmas should be centered on Jesus. We’re celebrating his birthday. His willingness to step down from the heavenlies and experience life in human form, all to save us. The perfect, sacrificial lamb for our atonement.
He came to simplify the path to God. No more rituals and sacrifices. Simply our faith, then an abundance of grace. That’s what he did.
God wanted simplicity. With Jesus, he erased all the laws and rules. He demolished all the barriers. He overcame all the complicated steps of obtaining holiness. And he simply said, JESUS is the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to me, but through him.
What wonderful news! God made it so simple. And our response to this powerful simplicity has been to complicate the heck out of the celebration, and in the process, totally miss the point.
I read the 3 rules of Christmas:
- Don’t go into debt trying to show people how much you love them.
- Don’t go home to see family if it damages your mental health.
- If someone comments on your weight, eat them.
But for real, it brings no honor to Jesus to step into the season of celebrating his birth by obligating yourself to activities that leave you broke, stretched or stressed. You have permission to stop that now.
This Christmas, may you keep your eyes on Jesus and study how he did it. How he did it, was love. Simply love. He showed up in love. He gave in love.
What if everywhere you went this month, you simply went there in love. If you can’t do it in love, ask Jesus to show you how to either change your heart about it, or stop doing it.
What if everything you gave this month, you gave in love. Your time, given in love. Your energy, given in love. Your efforts, given in love. Your presence, given in love. Your gifts, given in love. If you can’t give it in love, ask Jesus to show you how to give it right, or release you from feeling you have to give more.
Look at your Christmas tree … this was never meant to be a burden.
Look at your shopping list … this was never meant to be a burden.
Look at your calendar … this was never meant to be a burden.
Look at your life … this was never meant to be a burden.
Jesus, please help us untwist what has been twisted. Help us to do all things in love, just as you did, so we do them right. May our celebration of you this month be honoring, and may it be a blessing instead of a burden.