I love Christmas.
Sure, part of it is the spiritual truth of the holiday – Emmanuel, God with us! It is incredible. But I would be deceiving myself if I pretended that I didn’t equally, or perhaps even mostly, love and enjoy the experience of the Christmas season.
It is all filled with good things – decorations, pretty lights, nostalgic songs, ribbons and gifts. I can wear my pajamas all day on the 25th. I can have deep conversation with family from out of town. I can drink hot cocoa, give the perfect gifts to people I love, and relax with no work tasks on my plate.
But sometimes, good things are the most dangerous temptations toward idolatry.
I see this in the counseling room. I observe this in the stores, in the media, and all around me. I certainly experience it in my own life. There are so many wonderful things about Christmas that it can be easy to focus our hearts in the wrong direction.
Are we worshipping Christ or material goods?
Are we more in awe of the presents under the tree or the baby laying in a manger?
Am I celebrating Emmanuel or the closeness of my family?
There is nothing more important in life than Jesus. He is worthy of all praise, honor, and glory. We experience no greater joy than knowing him and having deep, personal relationship with him.
The things that I enjoy about Christmas are good things. A loving family, thoughtful gifts, relaxation and nostalgia are enjoyable. They are good gifts from my good God! But when they begin to satisfy me and dim my yearning for heaven… well, idolatry can sneak it before we realize it.
I hope that you enjoy this Christmas season. May it be filled with loving family, hot cocoa, great gifts, and a lot of fun.
And may these good gifts lead you into thanksgiving and praise of our good God – our Emmanuel, God with us.