Does anyone else feel a little conflicted at Christmas?
Along with most of you, I treasure feel-good memories of snow, lights, gifts, family, and Christmas programs.
Yet, I’m conflicted.
Maybe some of it's the perspective gained from several years in a fourth-world country.
Maybe part of it is stress.
But mostly it's about my own heart: it's the clash of two natures — the spiritual nature and the flesh.
I know how easy it is to say Christmas is all about Jesus giving up everything…
(his comfort, his rights, his time, his energy, his personal space, his life)
… and yet not give Him MY everything.
I can relax if it’s only about the traditional checklist: tree, gifts, baked goods, music, family.
But what if it’s really about why Jesus came?
He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
What if — for me too — Christmas leads to death of self?
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus... Philippians 2:5
I am crucified with Christ… Galatians 2:20
Could it be that Christmas is much less about a soft, warm ambiance and a lot more about conflict?
Didn't Jesus come to die?
Doesn't Christmas represent an all-out attack on Satan?
When I consider my captivity to sin
— my complete inability to fight against my sinful nature and win —
I am in awe that my God, Jesus, came to wage the battle on my behalf.
He entered the conflict for me.
He gave up everything to deliver me.
That is what Christmas is all about .
And His abandonment to the will of His Father leads me to fall on my knees in worship.
(Not obsess about sales at the mall.)
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
If you've felt conflicted too, rejoice! It's proof that the Spirit is stirring you to live by faith.
Death to self... LIFE by faith in the Son of God...
What does that mean on a practical level?
Maybe sacrificing something to be ridiculously generous.
Possibly letting go of a tradition that draws attention away from Jesus.
Maybe saying yes to an unglamorous calling.
Very likely slamming the door in the face of temptation.
Most definitely resisting greed, discontent, self-pity, self-absorption, self.
It's worship, abandonment, surrender to the King of Kings whose grace we celebrate.
*How do you think God wants you to die to self and live in surrender this Christmas?