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The Greatest Gift of All
By Brennan Farrell

    I want to shed light on what the true meaning of Christmas is and to share with you my personal beliefs about this holiday season. In the United States, Christmas time involves the colors red and green, wreaths, decorations of holiday cheer, Christmas trees, and at the center of all this, Santa Clause, flying reindeer, and gift giving. To children, Christmas is a magical time, a time of imagination and belief, in a fat, jolly old man who knows our every action, every deed, and every thought. At one point we all believed in Santa, but we grew up and faced the reality that he does not exist, and our parents and relatives are actually the gift givers. As a country, our eyes are blind to the real truth, the real way, and the real life which is the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). We have become so distracted with the things of the world that we have lost sight of what is really important, both in the present and the eternal. Although the notion of contemporary Christmas season is based on the biblical principle of giving, our society has shied away from what I believe we should b focus on this time of year, and really every day of the year. That focus should be on the Lord Jesus Christ, and the significance of His birth, life, and death. Is it a mere coincidence that the word Christmas begins with Christ? The following may serve as a reminder to you, or a new way to look at Christmas, but in essence, the point of why I am writing this is not to say that you can’t celebrate the Christmas that our culture has created. I am not saying that at all, but I am telling you with 100% conviction that the true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of a man named Jesus Christ, God made into flesh, who came down from heaven to earth as a ransom for you and me.

    This country is turning away from the truths of God more and more as time goes on. We are a material based nation that values “things”, “possessions”, “entertainment”, and “success”, primarily of the financial fashion. Here’s a couple of statistics describing how material based and glutton our country has become:
-The U.S encompasses 6% of the world’s population and consumes 40% of its natural resources.
-If there was a global food budget that was strictly focused on feeding the people of the world, the amount of money that would accomplish this would be 20 billion dollars. The U.S spends 20 billion dollars every year on ice cream!
(Statistics used are from Rob Bell, the founding Pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, MI)

    Some of you may have grown up in a Protestant family, some Catholic, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, Hindu, or any other religion or faith I have not named. You have either chosen those religions for yourself or you are a part of them because of your families influence. Some of you don’t have a strong opinion on the subject and haven’t really thought about it enough to make a decision for your own. Some of you once believed in God but had something terrible happen that made you turn your back to Him to make you not want to believe in a God that would allow something so awful to occur. Some of you are repelled by Christianity because of supposed hypocrites that you know, that say they believe one thing, yet do another. Some of you have never believed in God and rely on yourself and other people to get you through life. Some of you may believe in multiple gods. Some of you may never have heard of the real Jesus and who He is and the significance of what His dying on the cross and rising again to life means. I pray that the power of God will speak to you in my attempt to tell you who Jesus really is, that He loves you more than you could possibly imagine, and that He is the reason why we celebrate Christmas.

    The Christmas season at its root is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but our country as a whole has turned it into something else. We have added our own spin on Christmas, and turned it into a time where we acknowledge Jesus on Christmas Eve at church while watching a display of the nativity scene, and singing classic Christmas songs such as “Silent Night”, and “The First Noel”; however, the following morning we then embellish ourselves in presents, things we don’t need, and things that make us want more of those things that we don’t need. We come up with a Christmas list a page long with some reason for believing that we need or deserve so much when in reality, over 1 billion people in the world live on less than $1 a day and essentially have nothing. We are rich.

    This doesn’t mean you are wicked for having wants, receiving presents, and enjoying the holiday season because I enjoy receiving gifts and enjoy giving presents to others. I once believed in Santa Clause as well; however, I’m afraid we spend so much time thinking about what we want for Christmas and what to buy other people, that we miss out on truly acknowledging, appreciating, and understanding the most amazing gift the world has ever received. Essentially if we do not recognize and give thanks and praise to God for giving the world Jesus Christ, especially at this time of year, we are selling not only God short, but also ourselves.

    We as people are impossible to please. We try to fill the natural void in our lives that we are born with, with material possessions, money, earthly pleasures, success, etc., yet we never seem to be satisfied, and always come full circle back around and feel empty again. Jesus can be described as a fountain of living water, that whoever drinks from His fountain will never go thirsty again (John chapter 4). God can satisfy your every want, desire, and need, and keep you full without ever feeling empty again. Do you have a void in your life, you don’t know what it is, but it’s an empty space that never seems to be filled? Have you ever said to yourself, “there has to be more to life than what I am living”. Believe me, there is.

 Why Jesus came, and why we all need Him
    The cause of all corruption, disease, turmoil, or anything of bad nature in this world is sin. Beginning at birth, we are all guilty of sin that we have inherited through the original sin that entered the world through Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Since the fall of man stated in Genesis, sin has corrupted this world and the people in it, leading their focus away from their Creator, to focus on earthly things that are eternally insignificant. Christmas time is about the birth of the Savior of the world; the birth of the One whose life was foretold in the Old Testament hundreds of years prior, that would break the stronghold of sin, and free the world from it’s grasps. Before the birth of Jesus, God saw that we as people couldn’t live up to His standards because He is perfect and holy and we simply are not. The Bible says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God sent an intercessor for us, one that would bridge the gap between mankind and Heaven because He knew we could not bridge the gap ourselves. God loves us so much, that He took on the form of a man, bore treatment that all of us will never come close to experiencing, went through torture, a brutal death on a cross to cover the full burden of sin, all so that we could be forgiven of our sin through a simple prayer and ensure our place in heaven.

    The greatest gift of all is the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As you give gifts this season, remember the greatest gift was given to you by God, that is Jesus. To accept this gift the Bible tells us the following:

A. We are all sinners. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
B. Christ died for our sins. Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
C. Pray to receive Jesus as your Savior. Romans 10:9 “…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”
D. If you believe what you have just read and that you want forgiveness for your sins and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I encourage you to pray the following prayer. Prayer: “Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. I believe that You died on the cross and rose again, defeating both sin and death. I ask now that You come into my heart as my Lord and Savior, forgive me for my sins, and make me a new creation. Thank you Lord for who You are, and what You’ve done for me, and I pray that from this moment forward You will reign as the Lord of my life.”

That is the point of Christmas; to recognize the great significance of Jesus’ birth, why He lived, why He died, and to do our best to express our extreme thanks and gratitude towards Him. The truth of Christmas is here before you, what will you do with it?

If you prayed this prayer or have any questions about this article, please email me at bfarrell2@elon.edu.

2005-2006 Fellowship of Christian Athletes - Elon University
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