Links Daily Devotional

What Matters at Christmas

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11, NIV)

The essence of golf is quite plain. A ball, some sticks, and a hole in the distance. This is the way it was played in the beginning, and this is the way it is played now, notwithstanding fitness programs, swing aids, golf carts, groomed bunkers, palatial clubhouses, storied architects, and athletically contoured clothing.

Add what you want. But then answer this question: Did you get the ball in the hole in fewer shots than your opponent?

I hope that’s not a downer for you. It just seems that sometimes, in the midst of all the fanfare, we forget the heart of the matter. And now we’re talking Christmas, too.

On our recent Links Players trip to Israel, I was reminded that the difficulty in seeing Jesus in modern-day Israel is the same as seeing Jesus at Christmas. Our focus on him is clouded by two strong forces: secularism and religion.

Many people lament the first of these. “Oh, the commercialism!” they wail. “Oh, the Santas and the lights and the pagan roots of the holiday!” And often in their lamenting, they lose focus more deeply even than those who go out for another round of shopping.

Few, however, notice that religion too plays a part in keeping us from Jesus. When we mindlessly sing the same songs every year and insist that a Christmas service must include a children’s choir, however unpracticed and unruly the kids are; when we critique the pastor’s message as not being “Gospel strong” and pray so long that the meal gets cold—we’ve also paved a way for the relegation of Jesus to the edges of our attention.

In the middle of it all is the birth of Jesus. And don’t be mistaken—there was plenty of celebration upon his arrival: angelic proclamation and choral performance, sprinting shepherds, a heavenly beacon. There’s no shame in belting out our hallelujahs.

But why did it matter? If Jesus’ didn’t “start his ministry” until he was 30 years old, what’s the big deal about his birth? It is this: for the first time, the eyes of the believing looked on him and heard the herald in their hearts. It proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

Christmas matters when we behold him who matters, when we get carried away from a moment in time into all of eternity. In fact, all of life matters then.

Jeff Hopper
December 24, 2014
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