Morning by Morning was one of the first ministries to publish my writing. They’re no longer an active site, so I’m excited to share some of my pieces here in my own space (with a few updated edits, such as the age of my children).
Another Christmas season is here! I love this time of year. The experience of Christmas through the eyes of my seven and five year old is a sweet gift. Their excitement as we decorated our Christmas tree and helped them make their wish lists was so fun. Most of all, I love talking with them about Jesus, the true reason for our celebration. The Lord does a special work in my heart each year as we approach Christmas. However, he is doing a different work in my heart this season. He is teaching me, but not what I would call a typical Christmas lesson.
This Christmas, the Lord is sweetly doing a work in my heart about unity amongst believers and the freedom we have in Christ. Hop on social media or talk to a friend, and we will quickly learn how we all celebrate Christmas can be quite different. Some decorate their Christmas tree before Thanksgiving but others are strongly against it. There are parents who only buy their children four presents, while others purchase a living room full. There are different advent activities, favorite recipes, and more.
We each have our own way we celebrate Christmas, and every family is unique in its traditions. This is a wonderful thing! Unfortunately, “wonderful” might not be the way we always think about these differences. In our flesh, temptations rise up to defend our way, or to convince others that our way is the right one. However, imagine a world where we prioritized maintaining the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3), instead of engaging in discussions about why our way is best. Ephesians 6:4-6 teaches we are one body unified under one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, and one Father. No matter our Christmas preferences, our unity in Christ remains. As believers, the thing that unifies us at Christmas time (and all times) is the gospel. We are unified in the message of Christmas, that Christ was born to save sinners, and we should make this our banner. Our aim should be to rejoice in the gospel together and to spread this message of hope to a lost world. This Christmas, may we celebrate the mom whose stumbling through advent with her children; let’s encourage her instead of comparing. May we compliment our friend’s new recipe, even if it isn’t on our Christmas tradition list. Let’s enjoy each other’s differences and celebrate what we have in common, the best thing, which is Jesus Christ.
There are things specifically commanded to us in Scripture, like to speak the truth. However, there are some areas in life that are grey areas, where Scripture doesn’t specifically outline how we should handle those things. Some common examples are how we educate our children, if moms should work outside the home, and yes, even how we celebrate Christmas. Scripture doesn’t tell us when to put up our tree, or when we should start listening to Christmas music. Therefore, if it is not something Scripture specifically commands for or against, then we have freedom in Christ in those decisions.
Now, let me be clear, this doesn’t mean we ignore Scripture and toss it aside when it comes to these decisions. No, in fact, every decision we make must be made in accordance with the Word of God. We should ask ourselves questions like, “If I do or don’t do this, does it go against something in Scripture (idolatry, loving our neighbor, etc.)?” We should also remember what God cares about most is our hearts, not the outward things. This means we need to check our heart and its motivations in the decision making process. We must be prayerful and seek wisdom. When we make our final decisions, if it does not go against Scripture and our conscience is clear, then we have freedom in Christ to say yes or no to that particular thing.
Friends, this is a beautiful thing that brings us rest! As long as we seek first the Kingdom, we have the freedom in Christ to live that out differently, and that includes how we celebrate Christmas. May we embrace the uniqueness of everyone’s Christmas this year! Our differences should cause us to worship our God who was thoughtful enough to intentionally create each of us with special interests and skills. Indeed, our world is more beautiful because of our differences, and the Lord knew exactly what he was doing when he designed things this way. Let’s rest in this freedom the gospel gives and lay aside our striving and defending this Christmas.
This Christmas, may we remember we are all image-bearers of our Creator. We will love people best when we set this truth in our hearts. We’ll see the person who celebrates differently than us as a brother or sister in Christ who is loved by Jesus just like we are. John 13:35 teaches that the world will know we are believers by our love for one another. Let’s love each other like crazy this Christmas by being unified in the gospel and celebrating our freedom in Christ. Prayerfully, our world will be changed as we live out these truths and the lost will come to Christ. For the cause of Christ, let’s keep the gospel our focus this Christmas, and may all of our celebrations and traditions bring honor and glory to Christ our Savior.