Sadly, Christmas has become an occasion to spend a lot of money on material gifts. Jesus taught us to focus on what is eternal, but instead we are focusing more on what is temporal on Christmas day than any other day of the year. Many people also over-indulge in food and recreation. Obviously, exchanging gifts with loved ones and taking time out to relax are all necessary in our life. Then what appears to be a problem?
Let's think about how you celebrate your own birthday. Your family and friends give you gifts. You are the centre of their attention. The focus is on you, not them. So why should it be any different for our Saviour's birthday? The modern day consumerism so subtly distorted this very norm that we turned our focus on ourselves, our family and friends. Of course, they too are important in our lives, but never more than Christ on His very birthday!
Then how do we navigate ourselves and our loved ones to find the true focus of Christmas? Firstly we need to remember the true spirit of Christmas, which is giving. God gave us the ultimate gift to all humanity in the form of Jesus. A fellow comment writer Alison Barkley recently wrote in our church paper: "If God could give us Jesus, what can we give? Firstly, we have to give ourselves to Jesus. Next, we need to give to others. And I'm not just talking about shiny red things. We need to share Jesus. We need to give Jesus to other people through talking about Him and living a true Christian example."
The below are some of the practical ways that we can celebrate Christmas in this manner.
1. Send 'Jesus-focused' Christmas cards: Instead of the same, mundane Christmas greetings on your card, why don't you share something about how faithful Jesus has been in your own life, along with a short prayer of blessing for the recipient in Jesus' name?
2. Pray for the lost over Christmas dinner: Instead of simply thanking God for the food, we can spend a few moment to pray for those who do not yet know Jesus in our neighbourhood, community, country and the world.
3. Give a Christmas gift that gives twice: How about sending gifts that are designed to help the needy elsewhere? For example, Compassion Australia has Christmas gifts that allow you to donate to a cause and send a thank you card to your loved ones.
4. Organise a Christmas event for the lonely: Why don't you or your church organise an event to invite people who are alone this Christmas and have a meal together? Also you can be a listening ear to them!
5. Give yourself to Jesus in solitude and prayer: How about spending 30 mins (or more if you can) alone, away from all the noise and entertainment around you, and re-commit yourself to Jesus in prayer, meditating on His Word? This way, we bring our focus back to the true object of Christmas, the author, the saviour and the finisher of our life – Jesus Christ.
May God richly bless you and your loved ones as you say NO to the counterfeit Christmas this year.
Daniel Jang from Newcastle, New South Wales is serving with (Operation Mobilisation) OM's ship - Logos Hope. For more information, visit www.gbaships.org
Daniel's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/daniel-jang.html