What’s that old saying? “The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.” And that’s why Christmas is such a letdown for so many people – children and otherwise – because there is such a buildup surrounding the giving and getting of presents.
Here’s the basic problem: No matter what you receive, no matter how high the price tag or elaborate the technology, “things” will always disappoint you. If that’s what Christmas is all about to you, the holiday will always be a synonym for disappointment.
That’s why all of the people out there who work so tirelessly to take “Christ” out of Christmas will receive exactly what they want: a meaningless holiday with an emphasis on material possessions and acquiring stuff.
If, however, you want to have the merriest Christmas of all, if you want to experience Christmas the way it was meant to be experienced, you need to understand and embrace the essential message of the season.
Which is simply this: Immanuel. “God is with us.”
When we think about the reasons for giving Christmas presents to one another, we remember the gifts the Wise Men brought to the child Jesus. But those weren’t the first Christmas gifts. The first gift was God sending His Son into space and time to save us from our sins.
My friend Bob Coy, pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, has a little boy named Christian. One night when he and Christian knelt for prayer by the little boy’s bedside, Christian prayed, “And God, thank You for sending Your only forgotten Son.”
It was a mistake. He meant to say, “Your only begotten Son, but there’s some truth in what the little boy prayed. For many believers, even at Christmas, Jesus Christ has become God’s only forgotten Son.
Let me illustrate. Let’s say it was your 40th birthday, and a large party is given to celebrate that milestone. All of your friends come to the party. There are presents in abundance and a huge cake with fancy writing in the frosting. Your friends get so into the occasion that they actually go out and record songs about you that repeat your name over and over.
So there it is. A big party. Lots of excitement and hoopla. But somehow in all this commotion, no one remembered to invite you, the guest of honor, to your own party!
You assume that it was just an oversight, and you decide to show up at the party anyway, assured that once you arrive the guests will all welcome you with open arms. You arrive at the house where you see your name emblazoned in lights and you can hear your name being sung in song after song. But nobody responds to your knock at the door, and the door is locked. The music is so loud they can’t hear you, and the people are so busy they don’t see you. Finally, you shrug your shoulders, walk away from your own party and drive home.
This is a picture of Christmas for many of us today. We string our lights, we decorate our tree, we dash about buying gifts for those we love (and more gifts for those we don’t love) because we feel pressured to do so. We go to countless events and we run around like crazy people. But then we have to ask ourselves the question: Has God’s only begotten Son become God’s only forgotten Son? Have we lost God at Christmas? Is that possible?
Yes, it certainly is, and many of us have experienced such a loss. Thinking about this “only forgotten Son” reminds of an incident that the gospel writer Luke gives us from the boyhood of Jesus.
Joseph, Mary and Jesus had traveled to Jerusalem for the annual Passover celebration. After spending several days among the thousands of Jews thronging the capital, they packed up and headed for home. Back in those days, the men would travel after the women. The women would go on ahead, and the men would follow along behind. So Joseph no doubt assumed that young Jesus was traveling with Mary, and Mary assumed that He was with Joseph.
When they had gone a day’s journey down the road, however, they discovered to their shock and dismay that Jesus was absent. He hadn’t been with the women, and He hadn’t been with the men. No one had seen Him. They had forgotten Jesus!
In all the hubbub of a huge religious celebration, they had forgotten the One whom the Passover was all about. They went back, and eventually found Him in the temple, “sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.” When Joseph and Mary tried to correct Him, He said, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
To me, this story pictures today’s Christmas celebrations. We get caught up in all the noise and activities and confusion, and forget the One we claim to be honoring. He gets left behind somewhere in the crowd.
Don’t lose God this Christmas. Don’t forget about Jesus in all the parties and celebrations – and even church services. Find those quiet moments in quiet places where you can think about Him, speak to Him and draw near to Him.
Did you ever feel as though you somehow lost God from your life? One day as you were going about your affairs, you suddenly realized that something seemed missing. And that’s when it dawned on you that you hadn’t given a single thought to God all day … or maybe for several days. That connection with heaven you had always enjoyed seemed distant at best. It was almost as though He were gone.
We can lose God in the holiday season. But here is something to consider. If you feel far from God, guess who moved? God hasn’t gone anywhere – but maybe we have. And in the busyness of the season and in the so-called celebration of the birth of Christ, we can forget all about Him.
If we do, it really isn’t Christmas at all. It’s just another day off in the winter.
So, don’t let God’s only begotten Son become His only forgotten Son this Christmas.
And from our home to yours, have a blessed and merry Christmas.
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