My son showed me his book report on A Christmas Carol the other day where he explained that the reason he liked the book was because it “explained the true meaning of Christmas”. I then asked him, “And what is the true meaning of Christmas?” He stared back at me blankly. He couldn’t tell me.
Before you start trying to guess which negligent parent is writing today’s devotional, let me explain that we are quite intentional in discipling our child. We attend church every week, we read Scripture with them every night, we pray before school and before bed, and we practice family devotions on a daily basis! And yet my kid was confused. Why?
If someone wanted to know the true meaning of Christmas based on our culture’s most beloved Christmas movies and TV specials, what would they learn?
If they watched Will Ferrel’s Elf they would have a few belly laughs on their way to discovering that Christmas is all about spreading Christmas cheer and the best way to do this is to “sing loud for all to hear”. What “Christmas cheer” amounts to is never spelt out but seems to have something to do with baking cookies, hanging decorations, spending time with family, presents, and believing in Santa.
If they watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas they’d puzzle at the meaning of Christmas until their puzzler was sore, but the most they’d learn is that “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.” So gifts aren’t important. Got it.
If they watched Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol they’d discover that the true meaning of Christmas is to have a spirit of generosity. A little unexpected given what the Grinch said, but he didn’t seem too sure of himself and he was kind of green when it came to the whole Christmas thing anyways. Better listen to the Christmas ghosts over the new convert. Gifts are important.
If they watched A Garfield Christmas Special they’d see a whole lot of gift giving and celebration with family but the wise Grandma fills the fat cat in on the secret of Christmas: “It’s not the giving, it’s not the getting, it’s the loving!” Okay. Christmas Ghosts and wise Grandma disagree. Not sure what to do with this one…
No wonder my son was confused! He’s being bombarded by a whole slew of competing ideas about the true meaning of Christmas!
And this isn’t just a problem for children.
The problem is that ideas are like colds. Most of the time you aren’t persuaded into believing some new idea. You simply “catch” them through repeated exposure. And the only way to avoid them is to inoculate yourself to them.
But how do you do that?
God tells us what to do in His holy word:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-9
We need to proclaim the truth. We need to proclaim the true meaning of Christmas that God so loved the world that He gave us the gift of his precious Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to proclaim this to our children, our neighbours, and especially ourselves. We need to live into this reality and expose the lies wherever and whenever we see them. And we dare not stop until he comes again. We need to proclaim Him.