I ran across this recently and thought it was good…
Christmas is approaching. Have you noticed? Evergreens and striped mint candy are suddenly in high demand. Men in red suits roam the streets, and bargain hunters crowd the stores. Yard displays and flickering Christmas lights brighten the night. The clerks at the checkout counter wear hats they would feel silly in at any other time of year.
Not everyone who puts up a tree, hangs out lights, buys gifts, and wears a floppy red hat is doing it just for the fun. There are many people, who, through all the glitz and glamour of Christmas, sense dimly that Christ’s birth really did have great significance for mankind. Something about the Christmas story stirs their heartstrings. So the loudspeakers at the supermarket play “Joy to the World,” and people enjoy it. At a time of year when tempers are short and credit card bills are long, it’s nice to hear about joy.
Perhaps people see Christmas as a respite from the rat race of selfishness they have run all year. With all the gift-buying, it should be a season when people think of giving to others, not just getting. It is more blessed to give than to receive, even for worldly people. But all too soon, the normal, me-first way of life takes over again.
If only lasting happiness could be found, gift-wrapped, under an evergreen tree!
Some people will remember their Bibles on Christmas Day. They will turn to Luke 2 and read how one night over 2000 years ago angels appeared in the sky, bringing glad tidings to the earth. A baby was born in a stable. His name was Emmanuel, God with us. They will rejoice over the old story full of such good news. And they will close the book of Luke, wish each other “Merry Christmas!” and go on with life.
But, who will take up the challenge to get folks to read the rest of the book? Who will show them that what they celebrate with so much enthusiasm is just the introduction to the story? As the story unfolds, the baby in the manger doesn’t stay there. He becomes a Man with a mission. Despite many twists and turns of the plot, He fulfills that mission perfectly. What was it? To bring true happiness to earth, just like the angels said.
No, lasting happiness cannot be found at the foot of an evergreen tree, wrapped in shiny paper and a red bow. But it can be found at the foot of a much uglier tree whose sides are dyed with red. If anyone kneels at the foot of this tree and cries for help to the Man who died on it, he will receive the best gift ever given by God to man, the gift of eternal life. He will receive the power to call every day of the year a holy day, whether it is a holiday or not. And he will be invited to attend a heavenly celebration that will never end!
So if you are wise enough to avoid the holiday frenzy in the coming days, make sure that you do not despise the people who are caught in it. Perhaps their hearts are more open to the Gospel than at other times of the year. By your deeds, by your words, by the expression on your face, will you remind them that peace on earth, goodwill to men is more than just a phrase? Will you help them look through the spirit of Christmas and see the face of Christ? Although the baby of Bethlehem has disappeared, Christ still gives life. He said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).