Upon collecting the day's mail after getting home from the office this evening, I flipped through a new catalogue from a popular Christian bookstore chain. The theme of the issue was Christmas and an assortment of CD's, greeting cards, rocks with inspirational sayings, DVD's, candles, calendar and books were offered.
What caught my eye in an advertisement geared around a holiday recognizing the birth of our Savior and the spirit of giving were book titles such as "It's Your Time", "You Were Born For This" and "Extraordinary: The Life You Were Meant to Live."
I don't know if you're catching a theme there but it has very little to do with Jesus or the giving nature of the Christmas season. There is a disturbing trend in Christian circles of our focus not being on God or even on others...but on ourselves. You, You, You.
We tend to think the Christian life is all about us. We believe we're special and that Jesus died for us and, therefore, we should get everything our selfish hearts desire. And make no mistake about it, my heart is selfish just like yours is. The point of the gospel of Jesus is to take our eyes of ourselves and place them on the One who deserves our attention.
When we interpret the gospel as being primarily about what God can give us, we fail to grasp the utter significance of the abundant life that Jesus spoke of in John 10. This abundant life is not wrapped up in cars and homes and jewelry and money. It is a life of fullness in relationship with God and others.
The picture that Christmas paints demonstrates the heart of the gospel. Jesus, being God himself, left the friendly confines of heaven to be born as a baby and live among us sinful people. He put on flesh and dealt with everything we deal with but did not sin. He died a cruel and brutal death because of my sin and yours. And He offers us forgiveness of sin and life everlasting.
When we treat God as some kind of cosmic Sugar Daddy that exists to give us whatever we demand, our attention is in the wrong place. Our focus should be on Him -- our Creator, Sustainer and Life. When our focus moves off of us and onto God, we see Him in His holiness and see ourselves in our unrighteousness. Our attitude is no longer one of demanding what God should give us but becomes one of gratitude for all that He has already done.
If you would like to learn more about how to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, please click here.