17 12 2013

“What says Christmas more than shopping?” Those words just blasted from my television as one woman tried to encourage a little girl about the true meaning of the season. What discourages me more than anything else is how true that statement has become when it comes to describing our culture at this time of the year. I just wish I could have about two minutes to be given access to speak into the hearts and lives of everyone around me and shout, “Enough with the greed already.”

Didn’t anybody learn the lesson taught to Ebenezer Scrooge in the legendary story, “A Christmas Carol?” He had three ghosts visit him one December 24th in an attempt to show him the error of his selfish ways. Scrooge had no family, no friends and absolutely no fun. He tarried as a solo. He loved nothing and was loved by nobody. He was blind to the needs of his nephew Fred even though he promised his sister Fan that he would care for him. He shamed his clerk, Bob Cratchit, by treating him as a slave and paying him nearly nothing. He had no idea that one of Bob’s children was suffering a life-threatening disease. And that, my friends, makes you responsible when it happens on your watch! Scrooge shunned and walked away from the woman that he was engaged to because he loved his possessions more than a living and breathing beautiful person. And it took an up close and very uncomfortable glimpse of his own mortality to wake up to the reality that he was broke in each department that mattered most in the end!

So why are we annually running ragged to buy things that most of the people who will be the recipients of said tokens don’t even need! Why every December do we literally “buy” into the lie that it is the quantity of gifts that will shower us with affection and prove our success? Commercialism attempts to imprison us and chain us within the world of discontentment. No matter what, it is never enough. No matter who; there is always somebody better. No matter where, the grass must be greener elsewhere. If you commit to this philosophy, your answer to the question, “How much will ever be enough?” will always spout off, “Just one more!”

The power of relational heart to heart presence trumps tangible presents every time! If all the gold in Fort Knox was suddenly delivered to your doorstep, the bling wouldn’t change a thing in giving you satisfaction and meaning. If you are not already free enough to give everything you own away- then what you think you own actually genuinely owns you. Gifts should be a welcome surprise and appreciated any time they are bestowed upon you but money can’t buy you love. The Lord didn’t send us a gift certificate in a stable some 2000 years ago. The Bible doesn’t tell us that God so loved the world that he gave us his only XBOX 360. God didn’t just send us a holy text via his divinely charged i-Phone. He delivered himself. He showed up on our doorstep. God spent not his cash on us but he sacrificed being in paradise so he could dedicate his life to be with us. Jesus moved into our neighborhood. He left heaven to walk with us and talk to us and listen to the cries of our soul. Are we so busy running around trying to make Christmas happen that we have become blinded to the truth that it already has happened. No other store bought trinket could ever come close to comparing with the treasure that became ours when he stepped into our lives. Will you slow down enough so that you don’t miss the magic? Can you follow the example of the One that gave Christmas its name?

Let’s be honest. We don’t need anything. If you have food and clothes and a roof to cover your head, you already materially have more than most of the people on this planet. A bigger screen television won’t heal your brokenness. Jewelry from Tiffany’s can’t shatter the darkness that comes when loneliness suffocates the soul. A Lexus with a big bow on it won’t drive you to heaven. Put the video games away. Lift your eyes away from the screen. Step away from the mall. Close up your laptop and get offline with your computer so that you may become online with real human companionship. Look around you. What son or daughter wouldn’t want to make a new memory by doing something with their parents? Go for a walk. Communicate face to face. Make something together. Take somebody out to lunch. Give them an hour of your undivided attention rather than just another gift card to a store. Wake up and realize that what makes this a wonderful life is faith in God and love for one another.

What if this was your last Christmas on earth? Are you ready to be content with the legacy that you would leave behind? Are you known for your giving spirit? Do you share of the blessings that you have received? Are you a whiner or a worshipper? Are you grateful or green with envy? Come on people! We have seen the Grinch time and time again and he couldn’t steal what was already installed into the heart! How many times do you have to watch George Bailey realize that no man is poor who is rich with friendship? How many bells have to ring before another angel who has just gotten their wings slaps you out of your self-centered stupor? Love is what Christmas is really all about Charlie Brown! Put your maxed out credit cards away and step into the season with your arms wide open ready to share your most treasured asset- YOU!

Contrary to what the movie Wall Street said, “Greed is NOT good.” It is deadly and left unchecked, it will destroy everything good and wonderful about Christmas. Jesus came as a baby and from the moment he arrived, he made eye contact with everyone in sight. My prayer for you is that God would open up your eyes wide so that you may see crystal clear by viewing this last week before the big day through the perspective of love. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. Will you make love the light of your Christmas? I guarantee it will transform you from the inside out and no gift receipts will be necessary. It will pay forward until the day we celebrate the birthday of Jesus face to face!



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