December 6

Last Sunday I went over an abbreviated history of our inherited December 25thpractice of celebrating Christmas, but I didn’t discuss one of my favorite things in life: Christmas Movies.

In an article titled, “How the Movies Invented Christmas”, Terry Teachout runs through the history of Hollywood’s quest to give us warm fuzzy Christmas movies that are primarily secular, and usually about romance (the Hallmark Channel is a huge proponent of Christmas romance movies, BTW). Except for some like Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, A Christmas Carol, Home Alone, Jingle All the Way, etc., most of the movies I own (like Holiday Inn, White Christmas, A Holiday Affair) are all romance movies at heart. Besides my A Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon, Jesus is virtually nonexistent in any of the movies I own. It’s supposedly His birthday we’re celebrating, yet He wasn’t even invited!

My theme this week is that we as Christians need to keep our 365-day focus on God. At this season we can enjoy secular Christmas songs (e.g. Deck the Halls), secular Christmas movies, and even secular Christmas themes, but at the end of the day, if we’re promoting some ethereal “Christmas spirit” that doesn’t have any substance behind it other than shear emotion, then we’ve missed what it means to be a Christian celebrating Christmas. If we are emphasizing the beautiful decorations, goodwill toward men, buying gifts for others, even serving the poor, but have forgotten the primacy in Jesus, then we’ve dishonored Him.

  • Hebrews 12:2a: fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith

Want to run the race well, hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” someday from the Lord? Then keep your eyes on Him.

Emotional foundations are like shifting sand since our feelings go up and down daily. But, they are the fuel of Christmas promotions nowadays, such as the “Believe” decorations (believe what, exactly?). We would never tell a lost person to “just believe” in Jesus without telling him Who Jesus is, why Jesus came, how Jesus died and rose again for our sins. It’s as if the world is engaged in a brainwashing campaign, hoping we won’t question what it wants us to believe in (and even if we do question it, we still don’t know what they’re really promoting).

As with anything, we need to ground our emotions on facts, but do not think I support divorcing the two. Our emotions and feelings are very important since God gave them to us. They are just not the foundation of our lives.

  • Mark 12:30: “AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.”

Our heart is the seat of our emotions and passion, but our mind is the seat of reason and rational thought. Isaiah 1:8 tells us to:

  • “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.”

We need to have all of our beings sold out to Him, not just one part.

You see, the warm, reminiscent feelings we have of Christmases past are a great time to reflect on previous family gatherings, enjoyable performances of the Nutcracker Ballet, maybe a warm dinner around the fire… But, we need to make sure that we keep Jesus in the forefront of our minds, of our holiday, and in our interactions. We are the proclaimers of truth, like a town crier out in the street, boldly proclaiming that Jesus saves! The world may relegate us to a mere “happy holidays” generic existence, but we are the keepers of the truth, and have the authority of the King of kings to conquer the darkness of this earth with His glorious Gospel.

  • John 1:4-5 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
  • John 3:16-21 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
  • John 12:46 “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.”
  • Acts 13;47 “For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.’”
  • Ephesians 5:8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light
  • Colossians 1:9-12 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
  • I. Thessalonians 5:4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness;
  • I. Peter 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
  • I. John 2:8 I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.
  1. Historically there were two “Painters of Light”: J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) and Thomas Kinkade (1958-2012). Both were “Christians”, both were prolific painters, both had inconsistent lives.
    1. We are not painters of light, but bearers of the Light, reflecting the Jesus within. What parts of your life are inconsistent with your testimony and faith? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  1. Confess these now.
    1. What can you do to remove the hypocrisy in your life? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  1. Looking at the above verses about the Light, what are some themes you notice? (feel free to look up the passages and read the other verses surrounding them as well) ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  • Excerpt from “Celebrating the Season of Light” by Tracy Grant, The Washington PostDecember 14, 2011:

The holidays — Christmas, Hanukkah, the winter solstice, Kwanzaa, whatever festival you’ll be celebrating in the next two weeks — all have one thing in common. And no, I’m not talking about enormous credit card bills or impossible-to-meet expectations.

I’m talking about light.

These are the darkest days of the year, and it’s no coincidence that the flickering flames of the menorah, the twinkling lights on the tree and the Kwanzaa candelabrum all harken to the human need for the comfort of light.

But the holiday rush often provides more heat than light, and when it’s over, we are too often let down. We didn’t get from the holidays what we hoped we would. Perhaps it was because we didn’t take the time to see the light.

  1. Exegeting the culture often allows us to see how they’ve hijacked concepts, and have warped biblical truth. Reading the above article:
    1. How does the unsaved world blend different beliefs and practices into one basic common denominator? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. Going back to the verses listed above, how is Jesus and Christianity different than all other pagan belief systems? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    3. Now, knowing that the only true source of light is Jesus, and that the only true source of eternal life is Jesus, and that He has victoriously conquered the darkness, how confident should this make you in conquering evil with the Gospel message, with the power of the Holy Spirit in you, with the love of Christ to a lost and dying world? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. Home Alone, It’s a Wonderful Life, Holiday Inn, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, Remember the Night, Christmas in Connecticut, The Santa Claus, even Die Hard, all emphasize Christmas, Christmas trees, Christmas lights, but no Christ. The holiday is fine, the trees and lights are great. But, if we celebrate any season of life without Jesus as our focus we severely despise our Lord. What are ways you can:
    1. Emphasize Jesus in your home this season? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. Emphasize Jesus in your workplace? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
    3. Emphasize Jesus in your community? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
    4. Emphasize Him in other areas of your life? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Feel free to enjoy the happiness and emotions of this season, but never divorce them from the facts (i.e. the truth) of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Furthermore, never divorce this holiday, or any part of the year, from Jesus Christ, the Light of the world in us! Make Him your all in all.