What Does Christmas Mean, Really?
Christmas is a beautiful holiday. I love everything about this time of year. It’s a time of giving, reflection, love, family, and rest. Most of all, it’s a time of hope.
Can you imagine life before Jesus? I don’t think we ponder this question enough as Christians. We take a lot for granted in our lives, but none more than the gift of the living Christ. I would not characterize myself as overly spiritual, in fact, spirituality tends to bother me. I believe Christians should spread the good news through actions more than words. Live like Jesus and the message will resonate in this world. But what does it truly mean to “live like Jesus?”
Life before Jesus was harsh and full of judgement. Rules and tradition dominated the land. God wiped out entire civilizations and the entire world when he flooded the earth as He pushed the reset button. Then he sent Jesus, flesh and blood, to live among us, the ultimate reset button.
The world demands sacrifice. Sacrifice is a part of life. Everything has a cost and it must be paid daily. Before Jesus, sacrificing innocent life through animals was the atonement for sin. We cannot escape sin for it lives within us. We are flawed by nature and must atone for the wrong we bring into the world through our actions.
Before Jesus, there was a clear pecking order in the world. The world was deeply divided into “haves” and “have nots”. If you were born a pauper, you stayed a pauper, and so did your children. You remained with your people and dared not to intermingle with others that were not your kind. You were stuck in your own little world that remained intolerant and small.
But then Jesus was born and He changed everything. For thirty-three years, Jesus walked among us and preached a new gospel that continues to last thousands of years later. He embraced everyone and taught us to do the same. He broke the rules and encouraged us not to cling to our traditions, but to break them with love and compassion for one another. He healed the sick and loved the sinners. He elevated the weak and rebuked the intolerant. He brought hope into the world, where there was none.
Jesus’s primary lesson came through his death, when he freely gave his life for us, the final sacrifice of innocent life so that we would never have to do it again. Never would we have to bother with atonement filled with rules and regulations. Jesus died for us, but then rose again, modeling what it truly means to be “born again” through the blood of Jesus. Jesus was born so that we could have hope and now we celebrate that hope every year at Christmas.
When you give a gift to a loved one, it symbolizes the gift Jesus gave us, wrapped with His flesh and blood, and filled with hope and a clear path that leads to eternity with our Father in Heaven. Every year Christmas reignites hope around the world as Christians gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus and remind ourselves the purpose of life itself. Jesus was born to teach us the way to God and to sacrifice himself for us, the ultimate and most precious Christmas gift.
What does it mean to be a Christian and what does it mean to live like Jesus? It’s simple, spread hope wherever you go. Tip your waitress more than 20% next time. Smile at a stranger and give them a nod as you allow them in front of you in line. Love someone that the world has rejected. Pay for a stranger’s meal. Most of all, forgive someone that has wronged you and mend the relationship.
Enjoy your family this Christmas, reflect on your life, and celebrate and honor the birth of Jesus. Ask yourself this fundamental question this holiday season, how am I spreading hope into this world and those around me? Are you living like Jesus?