By Laura Bailey, Crosswalk.com
“He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” Isaiah 53:2-3, NIV
When I was a little girl, my mom would place a pin on my lapel at the start of Advent that read, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Throughout elementary school, I looked forward to the calendar turning to December 1st and quickly reminded my mom if she forgot to get the pin out of the Christmas decorations.
But, as I turned the corner into middle school, wearing the pin, with its cutesy script and juvenile flowers, wasn’t a tradition I’d planned to continue. Unfortunately, with the abandonment of the button and the physical reminder of the meaning of Christmas, prioritizing Christ in Christmas was almost non-existent. As I matured, left behind my youth, and began my own family, I returned to my first love, bringing Christ into Christmas.
However, if we are not careful amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we can easily miss the true reasons for the season. Getting Christmas cards out in time, checking off gifts for the kids, hosting gatherings, and attending seasonal events consume so much time that it leaves little space for preparing my heart and mind.
I attend the Advent service.
I read the Christmas Story to my girls.
I set out the manger.
On the outside, it looks like I am keeping Jesus at the forefront, but in reality, I’ve neglected to experience Jesus as Savior of the World.
In our key verses, Isaiah is prophesying about Jesus. Though many have prophesied about the coming of the Messiah, very few people would recognize Jesus as the Savior of the World. The people Jesus came to save would reject Him; they missed God in the flesh when they rejected the Son.. They were so focused on what they believed Jesus would be that they didn’t recognize their Deliverer.
Though many didn’t recognize Jesus, there were those who acknowledged Him as Lord and Savior. However, many of His people rejected Jesus. He was mocked, physically abused, and ultimately rejected by those He came to save. Today’s believers have the gift of foresight, but I can’t help but think, “Would I have recognized Jesus as Savior?” Would I have bowed down to a lowly baby, a carpenter’s son, a servant?
I am grateful that God gives us His Word so we can read the account of Jesus in the Scriptures and confidently profess Jesus as Lord. But, I readily acknowledge, like the Jews in Jesus’ time, there are times that I miss the opportunity to give God the Glory, to submit myself to the Lord, and neglect to make Jesus the center of Christmas.
I am not suggesting that we forgo the holiday celebrations. There is nothing wrong with putting up a tree, swapping gifts, or watching holiday movies. Celebrating with family and friends and enjoying the season is a gift from a gracious God. Let us just be ever vigilant to keep the celebrations Christ-focused.
When you worry more about the holiday decorations than thinking about the gift of the baby in the manager, who came to save us, pause and re-align your heart.
If you are overly stressed about providing every item on your child’s wish list, take a minute and thank God for sending the best Gift of all, Jesus.
When family tensions are always high, turn to the Lord in prayer, praising His name and thanking Him for the opportunity to gather in His name.
A few years ago, I found that beloved button in a box of items at my parent’s house. Upon returning home, I proudly fastened it to my coat and prayed that I would remember at Christmas and always keep Christ at the center of my life.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your son this Christmas. Lord, help us to remember Jesus at Christmas time and keep Christ at the center of our lives. We are grateful for the opportunity to celebrate Your son, coming as a baby in a manger to save His people. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/kevron2001
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