WHAT DOES GOD THINK OF CHRISTMAS?
Philippians 2: 5-11
Christmas seems to generate controversy.Â The other day on the news, there was a story about conflict in an apartment complex in Florida.Â Apparently, for years, one lady has decorated the lobby with a Christmas tree and a Nativity scene.Â Another lady puts out aÂ Menorah.Â And everyone got along.Â But one man made the news because he threw fits about the big Nativity scene and the Christ mass tree, as he called it.Â He was offended by their presence. He seemed like an all-around nasty kind of guy.
Another story involved a man who was against the commercialism that has become Christmas.Â Now this seems like a good idea to me.Â Â We put way too much emphasis on things and gifts at Christmas time and forget the meaning of Christmas.Â But this guy wasnâ€™t much better than the commercialism that he protested.Â He nailed Santa Claus to a fifteen-foot cross.Â And in his Christmas card, he printed a picture of Santa on the cross and wrote inside, â€œSanta died for your MasterCard.â€
Part of it is the nature of our press.Â They are not interested in truth but stirring up controversy.Â And even worse, many are secularists and are interested in discrediting Christianity.Â Sometimes what we think about Christmas is shaped by the press and the controversies.
Most of us have split personalities when it comes to Christmas.Â It is split three ways.Â One is our childhood memory.Â We remember the innocent joy of Christmas and we so much want to regain it.Â I dare say that when the season starts this is where our minds are.Â We are shaped by the fun, joy and excitement of the Christmas of our childhood and there is nothing wrong with that.Â The problem comes when it does not materialize and it depresses us.
The second personality is the one that celebrates the secular aspects of Christmas.Â This is the one that overwhelms all the others. We go to Christmas parties.Â We buy into the materialism of the age.Â We teach it to our children and we go out into the world as consuming machines.Â We consume goods and services and we consume food, lots and lots of food.Â It is in this personality that sometimes ruins Christmas for us.Â Political correctness becomes a part of the mix.Â Making money and selling is more important than the meaning of the season.Â So we have towns in lawsuits for having a nativity scene.Â The secular version tries to substitute the story of Christmas with cute myths and stories and pretty songs and secular traditions.Â There is nothing wrong with a lot of these things but often good things are used for bad purposes.
Then buried deep under the other two is the Christian personality who really understands what Christmas is about but has a hard time getting our attention.Â The incarnation gets shoved off to the side.Â The Angels and shepherds are made into statues and Mary and Joseph hardly enters our minds.Â So, in the end when the season is over we realize what hasÂ happened.Â We promise ourselves that we will do better next year.Â And after a series of years, we start to dread Christmas with its baggage and missteps.Â We often find ourselves not thinking too highly of Christmas.
One day my wife asked, â€œI wonder what God thinks of Christmas?â€Â It was a question that stuck with me.Â We know what God things of materialism, called Mammon in the Bible. We know he is not too keen on pagan practices and immorality and selfishness.Â But what does God think of Christmas?
We have hints all over the Bible about Godâ€™s thoughts on Christmas.Â We have seen some of the prophecies in the Old Testament.Â We know the Birth stories in Matthew and Luke and that powerful introduction to the Gospel of John.Â We find all kinds of statements in the book of Hebrews.Â But I thought I would focus the text from Philippians 2: 5-11.
First of all, we need to know who Jesus is, after all, Christmas is about him.Â Paul said that Jesus was the form or natureÂ God.Â What does he mean by this?Â If we are to understand clearly what Paul had in mind, we need to turn to the book of Hebrews.Â Hebrews 1: 3 says that Jesus is â€œthe radiance of His glory and the exact representation of his nature.â€These two phrases tell us that Jesus is exactly God!Â He is the heir of all things and through him all things were made.Â John affirms in John 1 that he is the creator of all things.Â He set the sun and the moon in their orbits.Â He formed the earth and divided the waters from the land.Â He called the plants and all living things into being.Â He is our creator.Â All things belong to him both the past and the future; yet, He is God’s Final Word to us.Â We want to be clear, the Bible affirms that Jesus is God who has become flesh.
Please notice the contrast of the next statement.Â Though Jesus is God, he does not regard it a thing to be grasped. This means that he does not cling to his glory and his rights as the creator of all things.Â This is an act of humility.Â He does not insist on his rights.Â Rather, he emptied himself.Â The phrase, emptied himself, has confused people through the centuries.Â Many have understood that Jesus somehow gave up part of his divinity. Jesus is God and HeÂ did not give up any essential aspect of his nature. He laid aside his claim to equality with God and took on human flesh.Â He set aside his glory.Â The infinite God entered our limited world of time and space, took off the glorious garments of Godhood, and put on the garments of man and became a bond-servant.Â He became the God-man, fully God and fully man.
While is it an astonishing thing to consider that God became flesh, the reason he did it is even more astonishing.Â The reason that God became flesh is so that he would die for you so that you might be free of the guilt of your sins.Â â€œBut made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!â€
So, what does God think of Christmas?Â He thinks of you.Â His thoughts were on sinful mankind.Â Â Christmas is about God becoming flesh, which is very true.Â But Christmas is also about us.Â The reason he gave up his glory and became flesh was to die for us.
As the drama of Christmas plays out in our culture and everyone is telling you what they think of Christmas, remember what God thinks.Â He thinks of you.Â You are hisÂ reason.