Ninety-two percent of all Americans (and ninety-six percent of Christians) say that Christmas is their favorite holiday. I love what those numbers say about the heart of our nation. What is it about Christmas that people love so much? Some might say the shopping or gift giving, but I doubt that is why people love the season. It is fun to experience the decorations, lights, and celebrations, but is that why people “favor” the season as they do? At the beginning of the holiday season it would be good to think about its overwhelming popularity and remember that Christmas exists because “God so loved the world he gave us his only Son.”
Christmas is a revelation of the high character of God. The holiday reveals God’s holiness, his humility, and his hunger to pursue a personal relationship with his creation. The high character of Christmas is the high character of God, visible in a tiny baby. God so loved the world, he gave himself for us (John 3:16).
Last week we held our newborn grandson and, once again, marveled at the tiny perfection of God’s creation. Ryan and Candice have added Merrick to the family, and he is beautiful. Even as I type I am thinking about how tiny and helpless our grandson is today and about the potential he has to impact our world when he grows up. That is the joy and hope of a newborn baby.
Soon after Ryan called to say that he and Candice were headed to the hospital, he called again to say that Merrick had arrived. The announcement of his birth was pure joy to us. I am reminded of the shepherds tending sheep when the skies opened up with heavenly light. The angels announced the fact that a child had been born, a Son had been given. Pure holiness had come to earth, and he was lying in a manger in Bethlehem. Jesus’ birth was announced by a host of heavenly angels, surrounded by the light of God’s glory, to a small group of shepherds in a lonely, quiet field. The holiness of God was glimpsed by those who were least likely to be looking. The same is true of Christmas today. People will see Jesus, throughout the season, whether or not they are looking.
Mary and Joseph had to wonder at the baby they held in their arms. They knew their child was uniquely of God. Why would God become incarnate? Why did he choose to come as a tiny baby instead of a strong man? Christmas is possibly the finest example of the complete love of God. He gave up everything to give us heaven. That is the humility of Christmas.
Christmas is about putting other people first. The greatest gifts we give this season will be the sacrifices we make for the sake of others. God’s great hunger is for relationship with his creation. Christmas is a celebration of the moment that God presented himself to the world and gave humanity a chance to know his great love for all people. The most important thing God’s children can do this Christmas season is live as examples of his love to other people.
God wanted people to know how much he loved them, so he gave them Christmas. The holiday can seem to be about a lot of other things, but it isn’t. Could it be that the character of Christmas is the reason the holiday is everyone’s favorite? Maybe it isn’t the celebrations, the lights, or the gift giving. Maybe the reason Christmas is so popular is because God created everyone with an empty place that only He can fill.
Our Christmas will be rich and fulfilling if we share God’s purpose for the holiday. God gave us Christ so that “whoever believes in him will have eternal life” (John 3:16). We will have hundreds of chances in the next few weeks to remind others of the true character of Christmas. We will have the opportunity to bring glory to God with our words and actions. Christ can be seen in our humility towards others. And God will be honored if our hunger for the holiday is to give others an opportunity to receive eternal life.
The character of Christmas should be visible in the character of Christians. This is the world’s favorite holiday. There is no better time to allow the character of Christ to shine in our own lives. God so loved us that he gave us Christmas. May that love be central to our own holiday as well.
Join us at www.christianparenting.org and chime in on this week’s discussion question: Share your favorite family Christmas traditions.