Thanksgiving is behind us, and Christmas is right around the corner. You don’t have to know me very well to know how much I love Christmas and the Christmas season. My with bemoans how early Christmas decorations appear, and I start listening to Christmas music on the first of October.
The Christmas classic, “It’s beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” excites me just listening to it. The repeated line, “It’s beginning to look a lot lie Christmas everywhere we go,” puts a smile on my face. I am into Christmas trees, tacky decorations, the giving and receiving of gifts, well, you get the picture. As much as I like the stuff of Christmas, however, it is the true reason for the season that excites me most.
When I was growing up, Christmas was a sure time I could get family to go to church with me. Christmas Eve service has always been a time to remember and celebrate my Savior’s coming. Still, it has also been a time when I have been able to get those who typically don’t give God or church a thought to consider Him and perhaps come participate in a Christmas Eve service.
The stuff of Christmas is great, but if allowed, it can distract us from the true meaning of Christmas. This causes us to drift off course from genuinely celebrating Christ. After all, Christmas literally means the celebration of Christ.
I am challenged by these words found in Hebrews:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:1-2).
As we look at those who have completed their race (see: Hebrews 11), let’s grasp hold of the baton handed off to us. Let’s run in the strength of the Lord and the encouragement of their witness. We are to “lay aside every weight.” Even good things, like the stuff of Christmas, can hinder us. We are also to lay aside sin. The very nature of sin is to entangle us. Sin is an obstacle, not a spur to those of us running the race for Christ. By the way, the race we run is not a sprint but a marathon. So, we need to run with Spirit enabled endurance.
How do we run? We run “looking to Jesus.” As a runner concentrates only on the finish line, we, believers, set our gaze on Jesus. Jesus has already crossed the finish line and is waiting while running with us through His Spirit, who indwells us. Christ has already done everything necessary to ensure that we, too, may cross the finish line if we continue in faith.
Let me encourage each of us this Christmas to enjoy the holiday, but even more, keep Christ the center of our celebration. Let’s not lose the reason for the season amid the stuff of the season. With that said, I am so thankful it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!