Most believers do not need convinced that Christ himself should dominate all of our Christmas gatherings and Christmas plans. Yet even believers can become easily preoccupied. After all getting together with family, exchanging gifts, eating a great meal, and laughing, sharing, recalling memories of former Christmas gatherings, and just that wonderful sense of being together is part of what makes Christmas for us. Let me just raise some simple questions that may help us keep on track this year:
Do we have presence or just presents?
Christ is consciously present among us when we are made aware of him through prayer & time in the Word of God. When during your family gathering do you intentionally make time to pray together & share the word together? Your children will long remember those "set aside" moments during all the family gatherings when Christ was brought to the center. We can have "presents" w/out the consciousness of His presence.
Do we sing or just sting?
How many times do you hear of families that avoid one another during the holidays or do not speak or communicate. Even if they are together, sooner or later an argument or harsh words erupt. As believers we must find a reason to sing, instead of looking for ways to sting one another. If Christ is "the reason for the season" then we must find ways to model his presence in our lives. In every crowd that Jesus joined in the New Testament, even with the hostile, he made a difference for good in that setting. Our preoccupation with Christ's presence in us humbles us and removes the arrogance in our hearts as to who is right or wrong in the strained relationships. After all Jesus came as the healer of human hearts! And if we can communicate that with grace the sting will be replaced with a song. But remember, the change begins first in my own heart.
Do we have inward or just outward joy?
What is it that brings the real smile to your face? Is it what you received or gave? Is it whether all treated you well, or that you were able to share with others? Does the joy come from the reality that Christ came and set you free to live as God intended for you to live? Or does the joy come only when all the pieces are put together to your liking? Can you enjoy the things that do not go as planned, realizing God may have another, better plan than the one you tried to put into place? The angels told the shepherds in Luke 2 that the message they brought to them was a message of great joy...is it that to you? Or do you need another stimulus to create inward joy? Outward joy without inward joy is a short-lived sham. Gratitude coupled with grace...ie knowing that all we have been given in Christ has come as a result of grace...nothing we deserved but all given freely by this incredible God in Christ ignites inward joy that spills over into the real thing outwardly.
SO...will you have a Christmas "break-through?" Think it through.