I must confess that I have enjoyed several of the Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel during the past few weeks. My wife and I watched them together; I think we are just romantics at heart.
With many of these movies, I can predict not only the outcome but also the sequence of events that eventually brings the unlikely couple together. Things rarely get resolved before the last seven and a half minutes of the movie. Despite knowing the ultimate outcome, they somehow hold my interest until the very end (although sometimes I would like to see more of the story after the couple finally realizes they are in love, but that’s just me).
One thing, however, has bothered me more this year than in previous years. Many of these movies emphasize the “Christmas spirit” as though that is of ultimate importance.
What is this “Christmas spirit” and why does it matter? Obviously, I do not expect these movies to end with a presentation of the Gospel message. That would be great, but perhaps not a logical expectation for Hallmark.
However, this phrase still leaves me wanting to hear more. What is this “spirit” without Jesus? Why would we even want to celebrate the holiday without emphasizing the life and hope the Lord gives to us?
Jesus is the Reason for the Season
Jesus is the reason for the season. This has been stated so many times that I fear we simply gloss over the words without taking them to heart. The truth embodied in this phrase is, however, at the root with my disappointment with the elevation of the so-called “Christmas spirit” that usurps the celebration of Christ’s birth as the sole purpose for the holiday.
Do you ever wonder why much of the world celebrates the birth of Jesus? There have been many men and women in history who have accomplished great things. We benefit from the sacrifices of many who gave their lives so that we could be free. It’s not that we demean their contributions or their service in any way; we just do not get our families together, give gifts, and celebrate their births.
But we do so with Jesus. Why is that?
One verse that has caught my attention more than once this past year is 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” What, you may ask, does this have to do with Christmas?
It has everything to do with it. If Jesus is still in the grave, there would be no such thing as Christmas, no holiday season, no gift exchanges, no feasting on good food . . . I think you get the picture. Jesus claimed to be one with Father. If He had remained in the grave, no one would have believed that He was God in the flesh. The church would not have even begun yet alone endured for two thousand years.
If Jesus is still in the grave, there would be no such thing as Christmas, no holiday season, no gift exchanges, no feasting on good.
Because Jesus rose from the dead and is alive, we have reason to celebrate His birth. He brought light, life, and hope into a dark world. He is truly the reason for the season, apart from Him it would not exist.
Without Jesus, the world would have remained a dark place, without hope and light and life.
Jesus is the Word that Became Flesh
The Gospel of John describes Jesus’ birth in this way, “In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of the only Son from the Father (1:1, 14).
Jesus’ birth represents God becoming flesh so that through His death on the cross we might inherit eternal life. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus came to give us life; He walked out of grave to prove He alone can forgive our sins and bring us safely to heaven. This is why the angels proclaimed Him as “Savior” in announcing His birth (Luke 2:11). He is indeed the Savior of the world; there is salvation in no other name (Acts 4:12).
This sentiment has no ability to save us or deliver us from our sins. It gives us no reason to celebrate Jesus’ birth any more than other great people.
This is why it matters that we go beyond some feel-good “Christmas spirit.” This sentiment has no ability to save us or deliver us from our sins. It gives us no reason to celebrate Jesus’ birth any more than other great people.
The apostle John also tells us this in regard to Jesus’ arrival on earth, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). We have a choice. To reject the Savior is to spurn ones only chance of eternal life and thereby endure an eternity apart from the presence of God.
This is what Christmas is all about: it’s the Son of God becoming a man so that through His death we might have eternal life. It’s because of His birth, death, and resurrection that we have life and hope in the midst of a dark world filled with despair. Jesus is the only way to eternal life, the only path to the Father (John 14:6).
At Christmas, we celebrate the entrance of life, light, and salvation into the world. It’s so very much more than simply tradition or some fleeting warm fuzzy feeling of the season.
I’m not opposed to the spirit of celebration that surrounds Christmas each year; it’s just empty without a focus on Jesus and His message of salvation for the world. Without His words of life, this so-called Christmas spirit leaves us with no ultimate hope once the new year arrives.
If you do not yet know Jesus as your Savior, please call out to Him today. There are no preconditions for coming to Him apart from recognizing your need of forgiveness for your sins and your need of the life He freely offers to you. He changes us; we do not change to be acceptable to Him.