If somehow you could strip away all the trappings of your life and faith as a Christian, what would be left? What should be left?
Its a question I ask myself every so often, to check that I’m not simply worshipping the church, friends, comfort, family, or any of the other blessings that God has given, instead of him!
If it was all stripped away, would I still be found worshipping him, or would I be lost or cold-hearted without all of the things I had relied upon?
I’ve been thinking about this again as Christmas approaches because like many, I am in danger of losing the truth of the celebration in the whirl of parties, family, shopping, wish lists, food, and gifts.
Would I still feel like celebrating if there were no parties, no presents, and no Marks and Spencer’s adverts on TV?
How can I make sure that I don’t spend Christmas talking about Jesus, singing about him, and giving presents to others because of him, without sinking to my knees in wonder and gratitude for the saviour that I am celebrating?
One thing that I need to make sure of is quality time spent in scripture, reading the Christmas story in the gospels, plus all of the interwoven prophecies and expectation of the Old Testament. So that my understanding of the events we are celebrating is fresh and moving.
And secondly, because i’m such an extrovert – I need to make sure that some of this time is just
me, 1-1 with God, so that he can really speak, and I can listen closely.
But I’m sure there should be a corporate element too – I’m certainly looking forward to the Christmas services at Church! But I’m also challenging myself about the content of my day to day conversations.
When i’m talking with friends about Christmas, is it just about whether they’ve done their Christmas shopping yet, or if they are putting a tree up? (I’m sad to say so far – yes!) Shouldn’t I also be eager to speak of the amazement I feel that God would send his son to earth?! To encourage others by reminding them that this message is good news of great joy for all people (Luke 2).
I don’t mean that we should scatter our conversations with false piety or over-spiritualise everything (I am very excited about my Christmas tree!)
But I do hope that as I spend more time reflecting on Jesus Christ, and all that he means as our saviour – as I appreciate the peace he ushered in with his birth, and marvel at the glory of God revealed in a tiny baby; that this will naturally and joyfully flavour my thoughts and conversations as Christmas draws near.
What about you?
How will you make sure that you celebrate the true meaning of Christmas this year? Have you any ideas to add?
We are only a couple of days into the advent season – if like me you need ways to be taken deeper into the significance of Christmas, why not join me in reading this free daily advent devotional by John Piper at Desiringgod.org. (you can get it as an app on Itunes too!)