For All the People
Has our vision of Christmas gotten too small over the years? Have we allowed the many Americanized components of Christmas to blind us to the greater reality of what we’re really celebrating? Have gifts and gatherings with family distracted us from what is truly good news about this holiday?
In my family we get so busy running from place to place and event to event that Christmas becomes somewhat of a burden. We find ourselves exhausted, trying to make it through the holidays instead of rejoicing in the truth we intend to celebrate.
What is Christmas all about? Having young children has brought this into focus for me because they ask hard questions and they recognize patterns in our lives that don’t line up. They see that our conversation is seldom about Jesus, but often about our calendar. They take note of the fact that our joy is often found in the cultural customs surrounding Christmas more than in the true message of Christmas. So again I ask, what is Christmas all about?
When the angel came to the shepherds long ago, it said, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). What is this good news of great joy? What is this message that isn’t only good for the upper middle class in America, but for all people? It’s easy for me to get caught up in gifts, decorations, and food because I live a privileged American life. However, there are many who will spend Christmas without any of these three things that often distract me. How is this good news for them? After all, it is good news of great joy for all the people!
Here is the good news that speaks joy to all the people: God has come! The Lord himself has come to dwell among us. The King of kings, the Lord of lords has walked in our midst, borne our burdens, and is establishing His eternal kingdom. Peace, righteousness, and justice will characterize His rule. No more corruption. No more pain. No more strife. This is something to get excited about whether you’re rich or poor, in a time of trial or in a time of joy. This is the news that is truly good, for all people, for all time!
My children love the description given in Isaiah 11:6 of the coming kingdom of the Lord because it seems too good to be true: “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” The effects of sin will be completely broken and perfect relationship will be established again. The wolf will lie with the lamb. There will be no more hunter and prey, but all relationships will be characterized by love. Difficult to imagine, isn’t it?
This is the good news! The true, righteous, pure, holy King has come! We no longer stand waiting for this King, but we have seen Him in the person of Jesus. Now, we await His return and the culmination of His kingdom, but this Jesus is truly worthy of our celebration. Christmas isn’t about all the cultural trappings we often focus on, but it’s about celebrating the greatest gift of all: God incarnate!
How have you been able to keep Jesus central this Christmas? What have been some of the major distractions pushing Jesus to the side? What patterns have you been able to work into your family life to maintain focus on Christ?
Dustin Speaks is the Mission Mobilization Pastor. He and his wife, Lauren, arrived in Columbus in the fall of 2012, after several initial ministry experiences. Dustin previously served as an associate pastor in South Dakota and as a missionary to university students in Berlin, Germany. Dustin studied history at Ohio University, where he met Lauren, and was involved in campus ministry with Cru. After graduation, the Speaks went to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Chicago) to complete a degree in Intercultural Studies. He enjoys playing nearly all ball sports—basketball, golf, and soccer are his favorites. Dustin and Lauren have three young children.