Christmas is three weeks away, barely enough time to shop, create menus suitable for diabetic Uncle Ralph and gluten-intolerant Cousin Sally, re-home dust bunnies, and drag out boxes of decorations. Unless the heart of your celebration is little kids, it’s doubtful Santa plays a significant role in your 2018 holiday plans.
Because Santa isn’t real, with no connection to Christ in Christmas.
Unless you’ve canceled your cell phone service, cable TV, and cut the cord on the Internet, you know the world is a hot mess.
“Into this world, this demented inn in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ comes uninvited.” -Thomas Merton
Replacing “Christmas” with Meaningless Phrases
Jesus Christ is a bigger stumbling block now than any previous point in human history. The holiday inaugurated to celebrate the Savior’s birth is now Winter Holiday, Seasonal Celebration, Yule, or Winter Solstice, meaningless phrases designed to placate those opposed to Christian faith.
Birthdays are fun for kids, but after forty, fifty, or sixty repeats, the sizzle fades. How has December 25th remained such a big deal for 1,682 years? *
Two events in history stand apart from all others. The day Jesus was born and the day He died. Jesus entered the world from outside the world for a purpose – to make peace between sinful man and a holy God possible. That’s what we celebrate. The shine hasn’t faded one iota in 1,682 years, but fewer faithfully celebrate the Miracle.
Gifts, glitter, and galas attached themselves somewhere along the way. It’s easy to transform a holiday celebrating nothing of eternal value, because every party is a celebration. Once style eclipses substance, things have a way of moving the wrong direction.
Jesus clearly states that the gate to eternal life is narrow, the path difficult, and that precious few will find it. [Matthew 7: 14] The easy assumption that attending church or self-labeling as a Christian guarantees door-to-door valet service, depositing you at heaven’s entrance gate when your time comes is ignorant, foolish, or some strange version of Rapture-Roulette.
Even Seven-Year-Olds Know Santa Isn’t Real
Everyone over the age of six learns Santa isn’t real once Mom and Dad are caught wrapping gifts and eating cookies intended for the Jolly Old Elf. Most people over the age of six believe giveaway grace is real because it’s what someone taught them.
Cheap grace insists the gate to heaven is open to everyone because “Jesus loves you.” Bargain-basement grace rejects new birth as a prerequisite to salvation, insists that communion with the Spirit of God is unnecessary for entrance into heaven, and sweeps aside the truth that repentance is a gift that must be received before entering the kingdom of God.
Budget-conscious grace preaches that sin is old-fashioned and unworthy of today’s evolved men and women.
Cheap grace is not the Grace of God, activated by the blood of His Son.
Giveaway Grace – You Get What You Pay For
Giveaway grace proves the adage that you get what you pay for because cheap grace has no value. Many Christians hope they’ll stumble across the path to that narrow gate and squeeze through like Santa Claus down a six-inch chimney pipe on December 24th. You know the whole Santa Claus deal is a myth. Will you bet your life that hope based on chintzy grace isn’t just as fanciful?
Honoring family traditions and gathering with loved ones is enviable and blessed as long as you know the difference between a family reunion and the priceless gift of peace with God. I’m all for breakfast Stolen, family lore, and giggling with cousins. After all, Christmas is a family affair for the children of the King of Kings, whose birth we remember in awe and humility.
“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.” – Alexander Smith
The Gift is Christ in Christmas
Grace is the costly unmerited favor of God in the person of the Bethlehem babe. The Christmas gift is Immanuel, God with us.
Through Him we receive Peace and Joy. May we prepare our celebration with gratitude.
From Connections Magazine, November 28, 1993
“Life is a constant Advent season: we are continually waiting to become, to discover, to complete, to fulfill. Hope, struggle, fear, expectation and fulfillment are all part of our Advent experience.
“The world is not as just, not as loving, not as whole as we know it can and should be. But the coming of Christ and his presence among us—as one of us—give us reason to live in hope: that light will shatter the darkness, that we can be liberated from our fears and prejudices, that we are never alone or abandoned.
“May this Advent season be a time for bringing hope, transformation and fulfillment into the Advent of our lives.”
- Christmas was first celebrated on December 25th in 336AD.
There’s another part of my Christmas message this year, the one I never expected to write. I’m a recovering humbug because of one unexpected gift.