By David Outten, Production Editor
What is Christmas?
It’s the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s gift to mankind.
This celebration has devolved into a very secular shopping season highlighted by days called Black Friday and Cyber Monday. For many children and adults Christmas has simply become a day to receive gifts and have a big meal. Some seek to have the holiday renamed “winter holiday.”
The truth about Christmas was proclaimed by angels in the Gospel of Luke, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David.”
Messiah means “the anointed one” – the King declared so by God himself. Unlike most kings, the Messiah is an eternal King. He is King today and King forever.
Thus, Christmas is the celebration of God sending us a King. The “good news” (that’s what gospel means) is what this King has been anointed to bring. He is the savior of mankind who enlightens all people.
Also in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus declares, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
Jesus declared that the kingdom of heaven has come. It sounds like some Christmas Carol you sing and don’t understand. So, let’s bring this into the real world of Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays.
Christmas is about declaring a whole new world. The world as we know it is not “the kingdom of heaven.” It’s filled with lust, greed, envy, pride, and selfishness. There are murders, rapes, robberies, and fraud. There are wars, epidemics, recessions, and depressions. We lock our doors, use passwords on computers, and don’t let small children out of our sight. Virtually any news program has much more bad news than good.
The Gospel – the real good news – is that Jesus Christ came to change the world. He came to offer a new world to each of us. In the midst of the ugliness of life on earth, Jesus came to offer us a life filled with peace, joy, love, purity, and integrity. He offers to take away fear and worry and to end addictions and bad habits. He is Lord of the kingdom of heaven, and He invites us to live in this kingdom – in this life and for eternity. This beats anything you can buy on Black Friday.
So, how do you get this gift? Do you go to a church to buy it? Can you order it online at god.com?
To receive God’s gift of a whole new world, you must trade in the old world. The old world is a world where your desires are selfish and lustful – not desires God wants you to have. In the new world, your desires are godly. You have tremendous freedom and opportunity to be creative, but your desires are kept pure by the Spirit of God Himself (Jesus is your Lord). To receive the constant guidance of God’s Spirit you must (1) renounce the old “sinful” desires, (2) thankfully receive the forgiveness God offers through Jesus Christ, and (3) follow God’s guidance. This is called “repentance.” It’s basically turning around and choosing to go in the direction of heaven rather than the direction of hell.
Your world is not just external. It’s not just all the stuff happening around you and to you. Your world is really how you understand and respond to what’s happening. This is your “worldview.” This has to change.
If your response to an insult was anger, it needs to become forgiveness. This change cannot come by sheer willpower. It comes through a renewing of the mind.
Think of your mind as a library. It’s filled with your education, your experiences, and your old understanding of life on earth. It may include horrible attitudes, addictions, and habits. The renewing of the mind is like changing the content of your library. The Spirit of God will help you.
If you have a physical library of DVDs at home, the Spirit of God will help you decide which ones belong in the trash. The same is true in your mind. God will help you replace lust with purity, pride with humility, anger with forgiveness, and depression with joy. God will help you replace selfish desires with desires to show kindness to others.
God will help you choose wholesome entertainment and good books. God will help you fill your home library and the library of your mind with healthy things.
The process is not instant. It took years to fill your mind with desires and habits. It can take time to renew the mind. How long it takes is in direct relation to commitment. If you make excuses for keeping what God wants gone, He’ll let you keep it. The more you keep, the less you experience all the good God has for you.
As more and more people experience more and more of the kingdom of heaven, society changes. Life on earth becomes more like the kingdom of heaven. The opposite is true as well. As fewer people live directed by the Spirit of God, society deteriorates – crime, cruelty, and poverty increase. Voters elect corrupt leaders, and tyranny increases.
Christmas is when we celebrate God’s gift of a King anointed to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven. If we fail to accept God’s gift, and joyfully live in the kingdom He offers, we will live in darker and darker versions of the opposite.
When opening gifts this Christmas, make sure everyone present is aware of the ultimate gift for which the holiday is named.