Merry Christmas everyone! May you and your family certainly be blessed on this fine day!
Each Christmas, I like to personally take stock in my thoughts and where they lead me dependent on where I am in my life. Coming off a tremendous Spirit-filled week on mission in Nicaragua, I had a question come to mind:
Do you have Christmas in your heart,
or Christ in your heart?
It’s fair to be curious behind my meaning. Having just returned to the U.S. from the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and the poorest in Central America, I see so many people who seem to be more concerned with what’s under the tree than what was in the manger. This is no indictment of Christmas as a holiday or reasons against families to get together and gorge on food and football, but it is an indictment as to the state of our priorities as Christians. After all, how many Christians will spend one hour at church and several days laying around the house in food comas and their “fat pants?” While I am being overly dramatic in my portrayal to set up my point, in retrospect am I really that far off?
Back to the question posed above… what is the reason for the season? Or more accurately, who is the reason for the season? Is it a celebration of Jesus, our Lord being born into this world of sin to save us, or Christmas movies, gifts, and Grandma’s special Christmas cake? It can be all, and it is by no means wrong. You can have Grandma’s cake and eat it too! But, shouldn’t it be a birthday cake? Again – the true reason for the season.
I was lucky to do some home visits while in Nicaragua. These homes were not the three bedroom, two bath, two car garage, average middle class home we know in the U.S. As you drive through the country landscape of our own nation, you see dilapidated barns in better condition than many of these homes.
I’ll tell you this: despite the lack of possessions, the people I visited with reminded me of something I know, but we get numb to in the States: they had true happiness in their hearts. This December they did not have Christmas in their hearts; they had Christ in their hearts. I found I was not there to witness, but was there to be witness to a wonderful reminder that there is not anything we need other than Jesus. While reading the Bible early one morning before others in my group awoke, I found myself in the Gospel of Luke. In Chapter 9, Jesus gathered his 12 disciples and sent them out with nothing other than the clothes on their back and the shoes on their feet.
“Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes.”
– Luke 9:3
They led a successful mission in other villages healing the sick and preaching the Good News. All they had was their focus on their faith and the belief they had all they needed through Christ. In my own life, I need to do a little better job remembering this. It’s a lesson learned from the Bible and reinforced in person on my own mission.
I had several additional reminders of this throughout the week. There was a 16-year-old named Jonathan. We were talking, along with my 16-year-old, Madison, while clearing a field on a farm. We were talking about how the age for driving in the U.S. was 16. I mentioned Madison had a car, but did not like driving very much. He was in awe she had a car. He said he had a bike, but it wasn’t even his, it was his cousin’s. It made me think of the dichotomy between our cultures. Another time we were at the dump going house to house to invite the children to an event. At the home we held the event at, the poverty was evident. I don’t need to go into details, but it made me feel guilty for having wood floors to place my feet every time I step out of bed. Shortly after, I had mentioned to Madison I had not done any holiday shopping. She looked at me and said “I really don’t care if I get anything for Christmas or not.”
With all this to say, I really wanted to point out what is in our heart determines how we live our lives and what level of importance is assigned to it. At this time of year, do you have Christmas or Christ at the center of your heart? Have Christmas on your mind and Christ in your heart.
And with that, have a wonderful Christmas, filled with the joy of family and the love of a Savior born unto us on this day!