I’m going for “tunnel vision” this Christmas. I want my mind to be wrapped around one overriding thought: Christmas was made for us, not us for Christmas.
Of course I’m paraphrasing what Jesus said about the Sabbath. The legalists in Jesus’ day had turned the Sabbath into a burdensome set of rules to be strictly followed, a tradition-laden weight impossible for anyone to carry. The consequences of demanding such strict adherence to the regulations cancelled any sense of the rest and refreshment God intended when he said, “on the seventh day you shall rest” (Exodus 20:9). The peripherals had replaced the main thing. Jesus restored the true meaning of the Sabbath by shifting the focus back to its original intent: God gave the Sabbath to man as a gift, as a time to pause, to regroup, to reflect on our relationship with Him.
That was the purpose of all the feasts and festivals detailed in the Old Testament. I believe it applies to Christmas as well.
God gave us Christmas as a time to celebrate, to stop and contemplate his incomprehensible gift. A time to simply respond to the miracle of the incarnation, not tie ourselves in knots trying to “make the season bright.” I’m afraid we all too often get caught in peripheral vision.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the “peripherals” of Christmas as much as anyone. I love the songs, the smells, the decorations, the memories of past seasons, even the shopping. But I must admit, I sometimes fall prey to worn-out frenzy. I make my list and check it far more than twice. When my traditions move from peripheral vision to the center, my focus gets distorted. I no longer see Christmas as my response to His gift. Somehow all my activity feels like my gift to Him.
Christmas. God created it to remind us of a gift so profound that it stimulates our own generosity and goodwill toward others. To remind us every time we say his name Immanuel that we are not alone. To remind us we have reason for hope in a world stained with tears.
Will you join me this Christmas and ask God to give you some “tunnel vision” and fix your eyes on this one truth: Christmas was made for you, not you for Christmas. Enjoy!