Many believers and unbelievers alike anticipate the ‘holiday season’ with heaviness and anxiety. While personal reasons for depression vary greatly, the fleshly sensation of Christmas accentuates every grief in our heart. However, rather than masking our heart with a pretense of joy, why not consider that the Lord Himself shares in that grief?
Many believers stifle controversy in their heart over this holiday. They know that Jesus was not born in December and find sentimental reenactments of His birth inaccurate, often serving as spiritual entertainment. For sure the Apostles never engaged in any such rehearsals of the Lord’s birth and the early Christians and Puritans rejected establishing this event. None of the founding fathers would dream of shopping for gifts to each other – especially if they lacked nothing.
The unmistakable spiritual truth of Christmas is this: when believers and unbelievers alike can join together and celebrate a spiritual event, it is laden with worldliness and idolatry.
Thankfully, commercial ‘joy’ and ‘peace’ elude most folks – the only thing worse than a false joy is building a foundation upon it. The world accepts and celebrates a god they deem benign and vulnerable but rejects a reigning King to Whom they must give account.
If we are outsiders to the flashing lights and tinsel that ‘deck the halls’ and the holiday cheer that reeks of cliché, we can certainly find consolation and hope in this – Jesus is on the outside as well. He never engaged in falderal or worldliness – never lost His focus of the cross. He never said to look backwards but forward, living each day in the reality of His promised return as Judge and King.
God’s burden for the lost was born into a manger but the proclamation to the world is this, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand”. That is the message rejected by man – without it, there can be no joy, no peace, no reconciliation with God at Christmas or any other time.
Gathering with family and friends and enjoying traditions is a good thing but if we believe that worldly celebrations, gift giving or ‘the most wonderful time of year’ is ordained by our holy God we will be rightfully disappointed in Him.
Unlike the world, the Savior Jesus invites,
“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
“There will be terrible times in the last days”, warned the Apostle Paul in II Timothy 3. The call for believers to separate from the world is not to prevent fun or celebration but serves as an intrinsic warning that this world is temporal and any hope rooted therein is a poor and foolhardy investment.
Depression, sadness, and disappointment is not crazy during Christmas but often true reflection of this dark world….perhaps a true alignment with the heart of Christ. I pray to seek the Lord in greater measure and hear from Him through His word. But I also pray for those who ‘celebrate’ but refuse to repent, the many who celebrate Christ’s birth but reject His mandate to us, “You must be born again.”
He is not in that manger. But He promises,
“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23)
This is the true celebration that the world cannot give and cannot take away.