A time for honoring the King of Kings
December 7, 2004
It’s hard to believe that it’s December. But we just passed Thanksgiving, deer season, the leaves are off the trees, we’ve had snow on the ground twice at my house already and the calendar tells me Christmas is about three weeks away. This year — like most lately — seemed to pass too quickly.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year. As we raised our children, we worked at keeping the material/party part of America’s Christmas celebration in check so that the wonder of Christ’s coming to earth would not be diminished.
Today, TV programmers have a ceaseless parade of animated movies and make-believe Christmas characters; like Santa Claus, Rudolph the Reindeer and the Grinch, to get us into the mood for Christmas. All of these icons try to teach children “the real meaning of Christmas.” But they all miss the mark. In this month’s release of one of the newest Christmas theme movies titled, “Polar Express,” the producer’s and director’s message to the children they are targeting is simply to have “faith” and believe in Christmas. Faith in faith or faith that Christmas comes each year? The message of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us (John 1:1, 14) has been completely lost.
On Dec. 1, a national news network reported that Macy’s department store in New York City took the greeting, “Merry Christmas” completely out of their Christmas decor this year. This has become an unacceptable greeting in many public places (including some school districts). In that greeting is encoded the name: Christ. “Merry Christmas” is being replaced by the more politically correct greeting of “Happy Holidays.” So, the world continues to try to bury the real message and person of Christmas. Our culture has lost the wonder of God coming personally and physically to earth.
The world and retailers are quick to jump on the bandwagon of gift-giving to show your love for the most meaningful people of your life. I am sure we will all participate in this at one level or another. But where does the idea of gift giving come from?
Yes, you are correct. We give because it is a reminder that God first
“… gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us …” (Titus 2:14). God is the one who initiated the concept of “gifts” to those we love. When we give, we are more like God than at any other time of our lives. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son …” (John 3:16).
Do you recall what the first thing the Wisemen (Magi) from the East did when they came to see Jesus? We are told, “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” (Matt 2:11).
Do you see it? They first bowed down and worshipped Jesus. Then they presented their gifts. The Magi gave PERSONAL gifts. These personal gifts were also COSTLY gifts. Each of the items they gave was a treasure. After all, they came to pay homage to a King!
These expensive gifts were no doubt used to pay the expenses for the years of exile Joseph, Mary and Jesus would spend in Egypt until King Herod died and it was safe to return home. These gifts sustained His LIFE on earth. Today, our Christmas gifts to Jesus sustains His MINISTRY on earth.
Most of the people I know give an extra gift to Jesus to support His work on earth by giving to and through their local church. My wife and I are giving such a gift. In addition, this is the season that Southern Baptists give generously to the worldwide ministry of Jesus in our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO).
The International Mission Board uses 100 percent of LMCO funds to support missionaries and their ministries, allowing you and your church to join in a strategic global effort to reach the whole world. Here is a strategic way for you to personally fulfill Acts 1:8 in your life.
As you celebrate Christmas this year, FIRST give yourself to Jesus. Then, as you give precious, personal gifts to loved ones in your life, don’t forget to be generous to Jesus who is the reason for the season. Your gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering will produce eternal rewards for you! Use this opportunity to explain to your children how, like the Magi, they too can give gifts to honor Jesus on His coming.
Oh, by the way, MERRY CHRISTMAS!