I am starting a fight this Christmas! I have made a conscious decision this year to fight the consumerism of Christmas. My wife has agreed to this fight. We have our basic needs met, what do we really need this Christmas?
As Advent begins and we move towards Christmas, one of the things I often hear people say is something along the lines of, “There really isn’t anything I/we/the kids need.” If that is true, and it probably is, then why keep shopping? Is it because everyone else is and it’s the American way to celebrate the season? Do we do it to prove our love through gifts to those near and dear to us? If there really isn’t anything we need, then let’s pass along some of our riches to others in dire need.
With the crisis of poverty, Ebola and the persecution of Christians, we know there are thousands of people around the globe truly in need. Here in the United States we get “need” and “want” mixed up pretty easily. Need is carrying your child to a hospital several miles away, hoping they have a cure. Need is shivering in the cold, because you literally own only the clothes on your back. Need is being forced from your home because you will not renounce your Christian faith.
One website I looked at showed that if a person was making $40,000 (included in their whole package) it puts them in the top 1%, actually the top .57%, of the world’s richest people. Add in health insurance, retirement, and other benefits, if you make $70,000 (as a package) you are in the top .13% of the world’s wealthiest people. Congratulations…or not. Jesus says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).
So, if you have all of your real needs met, how can you turn this Advent Season into a season focused on Jesus and the needs of humanity around you? Here are a few suggestions to consider.
First, remember the “reason for the season”. Advent (from the Latin word for coming or arrival) gives us a twin focus on “the reason for the season”. We look back at the arrival of Jesus the Messiah, born in a stable in Bethlehem, almost 2,000 years ago. However, we also look forward to His second advent, the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we yearn for His return, we want to align our earthly lives with His ways.
This leads us into a second suggestion for this season. Give to those in spiritual need. Perhaps you give a Bible, in honor of someone, through a donation to a group that provides Bibles. The Bible will pay spiritual dividends for years to come compared to a shirt that fades or a gadget that breaks.
A third suggestion is give of yourself. There are a lot of lonely people this time of year. Perhaps there is a widow or widower that is experiencing their first Christmas without a loved one. A quick hello with some cookies or shoveling their walk might be just the pick-me-up of encouragement that person needs.
A final suggestion is back to our beginning segment; give to those in real physical need. Perhaps you will choose to make a donation to teach a mother to read or give a goat through a Christian aid organization serving overseas (the former is what my wife and I have chosen). Or perhaps you will donate to a pregnancy center or food pantry in our area. There are many aid organizations working to meet needs to serve humanity.
This is the humanity that the baby in the manger came to save. This is the humanity that He grew to manhood and died for on the Cross. This is the humanity that He conquered death and sin for by rising from the grave. This is the humanity that He ascended to Heaven for and now sits at the Father’s right hand. This humanity needs its basic needs met so that they are open to hearing His Gospel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus alone that can then fill their deepest need, the need of a Savior.
Let us look around and dig in to fight for a different Advent and Christmas this year. Consumerism and other distractions you lose. Giving, sharing, buying a goat, you win….all for the glory of Jesus Christ, indeed the “reason for the season”.
This is awesome Elton. I have felt this way for several years. I would love to experience an “old fashioned” Christmas again. Singing Christmas Carols, serving a Christmas dinner at a shelter, randomly handing out useful gifts to the poor…etc etc. I enjoy the excitement the kids have, but think it would be great to hand out Bibles in a place like a Walmart parking lot!
P.S. Nice job Katie….proud of you both!