Christmas marks the best time of years, it fueled with goodness and cheer. We can’t get enough of the all the good, fun things Christmas has to offer. Danger! Be warned of Christmas. That just sounds slightly mad. Do you know what I am talking about? Probably not, what could be wrong or even worse, dangerous about Christmas. There’s there danger to begin with, you can’t even see it. But it’s Christmas, will you head the warning I am about to give you?
The danger of good thing
“The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night.”
The greatest an enemy for desiring Christ at Christmas is not poison, but gifts, food and decorations. It is not the banquets of wickedness that dulls our appetites for Jesus at Christmas, but endless nibbling at to-do lists, shopping and holiday plans.
And God’s word knows that we are inclined to do that very thing. Luke 14:18-20 says:
“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’”
What keeps you from seeing the banquets of God’s love at Christmas is land, oxen, and marriage? All good things. The biggest obstacle you will face this Christmas and everyday is not realising how the enemy is the gifts we have, the pleasures of earth.
The dangerous good things you didn’t see coming
“When these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.”
And we can see that in ourselves when we excuse our Christmas crazy with: “God knows it’s a busy time”, “I’m not doing anything wrong, these are all good things”, “Hey, it’s Christmas!”, “God doesn’t want me to give up good things, he wants me to lead a good life; have a great, fun-filled holiday.”
You can barely recognise how much these are dangerous distractions. You can barely see how much they take you away from Jesus.
This is not a big deal.
Jesus said some people will hear the word of God, a desire for God will be awakened in their hearts. But then, “as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life” (Luke 8:14).
Christmas can easily choke out Christ, suffocating any space for us to hear the word of God, to relish in the joy of the incarnation.
Good things this Christmas can do far greater damage. Christmas is the greatest foretelling of our hearts.
And so you will always resist tooth and nail before considering what good things you might want to forego because they sweep you away from Jesus. I’m sure right now, even as you read this, your new heart says, yes, but you can’t imagine changing Christmas.
The dangerous good things, perhaps you now do see, but refuse to relinquish.
What kind of Christmas should I have?
Does this mean no good, fun things this Christmas? No, but it does mean asking how much weight I place on them and if they deter me from any good time with Jesus. Do they choke out time for Jesus? Do they take me away from relishing and enjoying what the incarnation really means?
It’s not good things that are now evil things, it’s good things becoming ultimate things. As Tim Keller says:
“Idolatry is taking good things, and making them ultimate things.”
Forego some good things to spend time with Jesus.
It may mean keeping gifts simple or saying no to making that time-consuming dessert. Evaluate whatever you get caught in the most, that is what you should probably change.
It’s slowing down on starters so that you are not too stuffed before the main course. See our article on: All wrapped up and stuffed this Christmas.
And that means stripping your starters down, taking out some good, but dangerous things that leave you full before you can feast on God.
And then there is more. It is more than just stripping away some dangerous, good things this Christmas, you actually also then need to order a feast. It’s making sure we order the best possible feast and then savouring every minute it. Sounds obvious right? Order and enjoy. But it’s not always so simple.
Our next article in this series will be: Order a feast and watch God serve you – Christmas 2018
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