I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but Christmas is two weeks away.
I like pretty much everything about Christmas, I really do. Well, except for the sappy Hallmark movies, but I watch them because Kathie likes them.
I mean, we decorate our house with Santas in the kitchen…
…snowmen in the bathroom (even though they sometimes make me feel a little self-conscious)…
…a Teddy Bear tree in the front window…
…a regular tree in the family room…
…a nutcracker guarding the front door…
…and some outdoor lights…
And it’s all stored in an assortment of plastic bins and cardboard boxes that I dutifully drag down from the attic every year after Thanksgiving, and then haul back up in January.
I like the food, the family gatherings and the candle light Christmas Eve service at church. I like breakfast casserole with the kids and grandkids on Christmas morning. And I LOVE watching loved ones, especially the kids, opening their gifts.
However, I sometimes think that all this stuff may play a role in keeping us from seeing the real meaning of Christmas.
The real meaning of Christmas.
To be honest, I get sort of tired of hearing that phrase. It seems everyone has their own idea about the “real meaning of Christmas.”
Love for all mankind.
The warmth and comfort of family.
Giving to those in need.
Peace on earth.
A Baby in a stable (“no crying He makes”).
To be sure, I have nothing against any of those things. In fact, in one way or another, they all spring from that first Christmas.
Have you ever stopped to look at Christmas through the eyes of the people who lived it?
We tend to sentimentalize the events of Bethlehem that night. But, for starters, try to imagine living in a land where the king could order the execution of all children under the age of two…and it would actually be carried out. Many people live in fear today. Fear of terrorists. Fear of politicians. Fear of big business. Fear of genetically modified food. Fear of vaccines. Even fear of our neighbors. But never in my wildest dreams could I imagine living in a society where a ruler can, on a whim, decide to violently eliminate everybody’s children! Can you? I know there are places in the world where this can happen, but it is completely foreign to my experience.
To all of this God says, “Fear not.”
Now let’s try to lift our mind’s eye away from this physical world completely. What did (does?) Christmas look like from the spiritual realm?
What was God up to?
What was Satan’s reaction?
We have a glimpse in Revelation 12. It’s couched in language that seems wild and hard to comprehend because the author is attempting to describe something that is truly beyond our experience. Take a look at Revelation 12:1-6…
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
Go ahead and read the rest of the chapter. Don’t get bogged down in the details, just soak up the images and sensations.
I’m telling you, something cataclysmic happened at what we refer to as Christmas. It’s not a warm, mushy, sentimental event.
It’s nothing short of a declaration of war.
A war of (literally) biblical proportions.
A war between God and Satan.
And here’s the most amazing part:
They’re going to war over you and me.
And that, my friend, is the real meaning of Christmas.
PS – We know who wins. So “fear not.”