Christmas Changes Everything
The enduring lessons of the holiday season.
Near the end of A Christmas Carol, we find Ebenezer Scrooge pleading with the Ghost of Christmas Future for a second chance at life. Because of the ghost, Scrooge received a glimpse of his potential fate if he didn’t change his selfish ways: he would die a hardened, hopeless, lonely, and bitter man; loved nor mourned by anyone. This vision sufficiently disturbed Scrooge, and in response, he made this memorable vow:
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”
Now that Christmas Day 2022 has passed, it is likely that many of us simply want to move on from Christmas. In the coming days, we will begin to take down our Christmas trees and put away our Christmas decorations. Those of us who traveled during the Christmas vacation will return to our respective homes so that life can go back to normal again. Our radio stations will (finally!) cease playing Christmas music and go back to playing "the best of the 70s, 80s, and today.” As a culture, we usually move on from Christmas by New Years Eve, less than a week later.
But my plea to you on this Third Day of Christmas is this: do not shut out the lessons that the Christmas season teaches! Why? Because Christmas really does change everything.
The Apostle Paul summarizes the Christmas story well in Galatians 4:4-5 when he writes: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” In other words, Christmas teaches us the important lesson that God loved us so much that He sent us Jesus (at just the right time!) to rescue us from sin, so that He could adopt us. Christmas means that God gave us His Son in order to make us sons!
Unfortunately, many Christians do not experience the comfort and joy of this truth, and they lack the assurance that God truly loves them. Many of us also struggle to fight against sin or to love the people around us very well. No matter how hard we try, we find ourselves lacking the ability to have the kind of self-control, patience, or love for God or our neighbors that Scripture requires of us.
One reason that this often happens is because we are not really experiencing the love and freedom offered to us by God through the Gospel. We are not relating to God as a loving Father but as a harsh judge. Christmas changes everything, however, because it teaches us that our fundamental identity as Christians is that we have been rescued, redeemed, and adopted by God because of the Incarnation of Christ. This truth gives us the freedom to love others and to pursue holiness, not out of sheer duty but from a place of peace, love, and security.
Has this message really sunk in for you yet? When you think of how God relates to you, do you think of Him as having rescued you in order to adopt you as His own child? Because that’s the message of Christmas!
After the angels and shepherds greeted Jesus at His birth, Luke records in Luke 2:19 that “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Friends, let us do likewise! Let us wonder at the meaning of Christmas, and let’s not let the season pass us by without savoring its many lessons. Real change happens in the Christian life when we begin to grasp more deeply the love and grace of God for us. Therefore, let us take the message of Christmas into our hearts and strive to keep it all the year!
Adam Smith is a Ministry Associate in Washington, D.C.