Linda Beck: The purpose of Christmas
Most of us know the definition of old words like purpose, but sometimes we might be confused by the content in which they are used.
I was very impressed with the book, “40 Days of Purpose,” written by Rick Warren, the founder of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. He has another book, “The Purpose of Christmas.”
The title of this book intrigued me, so I checked it out of the library. I wondered if he would discuss the purpose of the first Christmas, Christmas today or Christmases of the future.
Warren starts out with three purposes of Christmas.
They are as follows:
No. 1 — A time for celebration;
No. 2 — A time for salvation; and
No. 3 — A time for reconciliation.
The very first Christmas was God’s gift to the world. This gift was the most valuable one we will ever receive.
The gift of that first Christmas is the only gift we will receive that will last forever. We don’t have to worry about batteries going dead.
A baby born to a poor family was God’s Christmas gift to the world and His purpose was to “bring great joy to all the people.”
Have you ever thought about this being the reason we love babies so much?
Emmanuel means “God with us” and God came in the form of that baby boy whom He said was to be named Jesus.
Some folks today still celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ and even have birthday parties for Him. Churches celebrate with pageants, covered-dish or catered dinners, song fests and worship services.
There are some folks, however, who give little or no thought to the original purpose of Christmas.
Christmas decorations appear on shelves in stores the day after Halloween and Christmas lights are usually turned on around Thanksgiving.
Trees are decorated and shining brightly by the first week in December. Before electric lights were made, candles on trees were not lit until Christmas Eve or morning, but now many trees are left burning until New Year’s Day or even later.
Most thoughts are on what one wants for Christmas before plans are ever made for the giving of gifts to others.
So what is the real purpose of Christmas? The true meaning or spirit of Christmas should be a celebration of God’s gift of love, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This is where a time for salvation takes place.
Warren says another word for salvation is freedom. The acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior can free us from guilt over the past, bitterness and resentment, the expectations of others, addictive habits and the fear of death.
“Jesus came to save us for a purpose,” Warren write.
Most of us often wonder about several things such as why are we living when others die, whether our life really matters and what is the real purpose of our life.
Warren answers these questions in this book.
“Our Christmas gift from God comes by grace and through faith,” he write. “Our tradition of gift giving should be a celebration of God’s first and greatest gift of His son Jesus Christ.
“Giving should be an act of love, not of obligation. “Thanks be to god for his indescribable gift.”
The third purpose of Christmas is reconciliation. There are so many conflicts in today’s world. According to the Bible there are, and will be, “wars and rumors of wars.”
Warren writes that in order for us to experience reconciliation we must find peace with God and peace with others.
Reconciliation starts with the acceptance of Christ as our savior. Then our relationships with others enters God’s plan; unfortunately, conflicts start with power struggles.
In Proverbs 13:10 God’s word says “Only by pride cometh contention.”
Others cannot meet our every need or desire; rather we should pray and seek God’s guidance through our worldly conflicts.
This is where we find the “peace of God that surpasses understanding.”
When we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives, we will experience the “fruits of the spirit” and then find “peace with others.”
When people accept that “God is God” and make peace with God, then we can experience the true peace of God.
Peace with others comes with reconciliation. There is no better time of the year than at Christmas to wrap up a big gift of forgiveness.
Let’s remember that our gifts should be in memory of God’s gift to us that first Christmas morning.
So our purpose should be to celebrate Christmas in our hearts in spite of all the hustle and bustle, financial problems or strained relationships.
God’s gift to us is the purpose of Christmas past, present and future.
Jesus is the reason for the season.
Linda Beck is a local writer who lives in Woodleaf.