The Pastor’s Perspective
“Tis The Season of Distractions”
Pastor Mike Wing
Grace Community Bible Church
I must confess that this is one of the most troubling times of the year for me as a pastor. Before you assume that I am just a kill-joy who has nothing better to do than critique another’s time of fun and “celebration”, please take a moment to hear me out. I do enjoy many aspects of this time of year such as the opportunities to gather together with friends and family. But what concerns me is the distraction this time of year can be to our walk with the Lord. We get swept up into the hustle and bustle of Christmas activities to the point where we neglect to make the time to worship and servethe Lord. If you think this assessment is too negative, let me ask you a couple of questions. Do you find yourself so busy with holiday preparations and activities that any significant time with the Lord is crowded out? During all of the social activities of the season, did you sit down and talk to others about what Jesus Christ means to you, let alone share the gospel with anyone? For many Christians, Christmas becomes a blur of activities with no lasting spiritual emphasis or impact.
As we come to this “Holiday Season”, it may do us good to reflect on some important truths.
1. We should be aware of the market forces and secular mindset that drives this “Season”.
It is not my desire to discuss the pagan origin of the Christmas tree or somehow prove that Christmas was never celebrated by the early church. I will leave that to your own study at another time. What does concern me is how Christians are so easily “caught up” in the spirit of the season. A “spirit” that is worldly in its pursuit of “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life,”. John goes on to tell us that this “is not from the Father, but is from the world.” It is not that the giving and receiving of gifts or other activities associated with this time of year are wrong. What is wrong is that Christians allow themselves to get caught up in this frenzy of activity while neglecting the spiritual implications of our actions. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. ” (I Jn. 2:16,17)
2. Our attitude in giving should be God-honoring.
Despite what our culture says, little Johnny will not be emotionally scarred for the rest of his life if he does not receive the latest action hero figure for Christmas. Even Christian parents feel the pressure of trying to meet their child’s expectations by purchasing gifts. We need to realize that this pressure is placed upon us by deeply ingrained cultural expectations. Instead of going into debt to buy toys that will be quickly discarded and forgotten, we, as parents, should take this opportunity to open the Bible with our children and instruct them as to the significance of Christ’s birth. Peter told the lame beggar “… I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!”
(Acts 3:6) The one true gift that will last for eternity is explaining to our children the gospel of Jesus Christ. While there is nothing wrong with the giving or receiving gifts, it is our responsibility as parents to help our children develop a holy contentment with that priceless gift given by God to us for our salvation and all that entails.
3 Our attitude in receiving gifts should likewise be God-honoring.
Can you tell me what gifts you received last year for Christmas? While our forgetfulness can often times be excused because of age or other more pressing things on our minds, it is sometimes a reflection of an unthankful attitude. We tend to forget those things that we have received freely because we have esteemed them lightly. This is true of gifts that have been given to us by friends and loved ones. But it is sometimes true of the greatest gift we have ever received – God’s own Son. We can not have thankful hearts in receiving earthly gifts if we have neglected to be thankful for our heavenly gift. (Ps. 95:2)
4. We should not be more worshipful during the Christmas “Season”
As Christian’s we are given the privilege of worshiping the Lord of the universe and the author of our salvation. This worship is not limited to a four week period between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day (or early January if your favorite college football team is in a bowl game). Rather, each day should be a heartfelt celebration of our new life in Christ. Why is it then, that Christians enter into this time as if it is a unique and special occasion? In doing so, are we any different than those around us who give lip service to a Savior they have rejected? (Phil. 4:4)
5. We should not mistake the celebrations of the world with genuine worship.
Much of what takes place around us should break our hearts during this “Holiday Season”. Yes we see families getting together. Yes, we hear people singing “Noel, Noel”. Yes, we may even see loved ones attend a church service on Christmas Eve. But what is lacking is any serious contemplation or understanding of who Jesus Christ truly is. When Paul saw all of the idols in Corinth, he did not rejoice because the people were religious. “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. ” (Acts 17:16) Instead he boldly proclaimed the gospel. “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. ” (Acts 17:23)
What is just as troubling is that the message from many of our pulpits at this time are so unbalanced or even unbiblical that those who do hear them are never really given the opportunity to reflect upon the significance of our Lord’s birth, let alone His death burial and resurrection.
6. We should not be distracted during the Christmas “Season“.
I have a question that I would like you to consider and answer with some thought and honesty. When you go to bed on Christmas night and reflect on the past few weeks, can you say that Jesus Christ was the focus of your holidays? Have you taken the time to reflect upon the significance of Christ’s birth?
– Fulfillment of prophecy. God’s power and faithfulness. (Lk. 4:21; Jn. 5:39)
– Example of divine humility. (Phil. 2:3-8)
– Hope for a hopeless world. (Gal. 4:1-7; I Pet. 1:3-9)
– Glimpse of the coming glory. (Lk. 2:8-14; 8:22-25; Jn. 20:30,31)
– Manifestation of both God’s love and His righteousness. (Rom. 3:21-30; 5:6-8; Tit. 3:4-7)
If we have not truly thought deeply about these wonderful truths during this time of year, how are we any different from those around us who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?! Have we not been swept up in the secular aspect of this holiday to the detriment of our own opportunity to worship? We need to be aware that this “Sacred Holiday” is sometimes the most difficult time for Christians to think about Christ and live out the truth of His Word. May God help us not to be distracted by the noise of the world and may He enable us to be an accurate reflection, both in word and deed (I Jn. 3:18), of our Savior whose birth this holiday commemorates.
If you have any questions about your relationship with God, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Pastor Mike Wing
Grace Community Bible Church