Earlier this summer, our family made a pilgrimage to the ultimate summer vacation destination, Disneyland. As we navigated the crowds, I noticed a common trait among our fellow mouse-eared tourists. With the exception of a few overstimulated toddlers and stressed-out parents, everyone around us was smiling and laughing. The strangers...
While things like gift-giving, cookie-baking (and eating!), and spending time with loved ones can be great and memorable things, Christians should seek to make Christ the focal point of Christmas. It is after all, Christmas!
How can we keep our focus on the Savior?
Here are 10 ways to keep Christ at the center of your Christmas celebration:
1. Read the Bible story with your family.
This is a simple way to start and the best way to remember what brought our Savior into the world. Read portions or all of the following biblical passages documenting the original Christmas:
- Matthew 1:18-2:23
- Luke 2:1-20
2. Walk through Old Testament prophecies about the birth of Christ.
There are hundreds of Old Testament prophecies documenting the coming of the Messiah. Several of these deal directly with the birth of Christ. Reading through the Old Testament prophecies about Christmas and seeing the New Testament fulfillment in Christ is a powerful way to build your faith and focus on Christ.
3. Use an advent calendar with Scripture in it.
The advent season looks forward to the coming of Christ at Christmas (advent comes from a word meaning ‘coming’) and is a time of preparation for Christmas. It also looks forward to the Second Coming of Christ.
Using an advent calendar with Scripture will provide you with a daily reminder from Scripture and help you renew your mind as Christmas day approaches.
4. Watch a Christ-focused movie.
Sadly, many “Christmas” movies do not even mention the name of Jesus. Those movies fall way short of the true meaning of Christmas.
Watching a Christ-centered movie can entertain you, provide positive family memories, and build your faith as you ponder the work of our Savior. Some recommended movies to watch at Christmastime include: The Gospel of John, The Star of Bethlehem, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Nativity Story, and the classic A Charlie Brown Christmas.
5. Call out wrong messages about Christmas.
Holiday movies tell us there are several meanings to Christmas: giving to others, spending time with people you love, getting good gifts, and that you can be a hero if you have “the Christmas spirit.”
All of these things fall short of the true and amazing meaning of Christmas: God sent his Son into the world, in the form of a baby, to perfectly fulfill God’s law and eventually serve as the sacrifice for the sins, saving whoever would put their faith in him (John 3:16).
6. Listen to Christ-exalting Christmas music.
So much Christmas music is meaningless fluff, lacking any mention to Christ and lacking substance. Read the words from one of the most popular Christmas songs of all-time, Bing Crosby’s White Christmas:
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas / Just like the ones I used to know / Where the tree tops glisten / And children listen / To hear sleigh bells in the snow…
Although it is a catchy song, it does a better job glorifying snow than Christ. Christ has given us so much, why would we not sing about him at Christmas time? Through him we have the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7), a new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), the Holy Spirit living in us (Romans 8:11), an eternal inheritance in heaven with Christ (1 Peter 1:4). Snow isn’t bad, but Christ is so much better!
Here are some lyrics from a great Christ-exalting Christmas song called “Mary Did You Know” by Mark Lowry:
Mary did you know that your baby boy would some day walk on water? / Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters? / Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? / This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.”
Or if you are into classical music, Handel’s “Messiah” is one of the most glorious pieces of music ever written or played—and is about Christ!
7. Remember the dangers of materialism.
Don’t let yourself or your children get sucked into the materialistic trap that exists at Christmas. If you are a parent, it is especially important that you make sure your kids understand at an early age that Christmas is not about getting presents and having more possessions.
Some practical steps for teaching and learning a biblical perspective on gifts and earthly possessions are:
- Walk through Scriptures dealing with possessions. Matthew 6:19-34 and James 4:1-12 are good places to start.
- Go to a garbage dump and look at all of the old things that might have been highly-coveted at one time.
- Focus on giving at Christmas time. Jesus is the ultimate example—sacrificially giving Himself to pay the price for our sins.
- Make your Christmas list be a list of things you are thankful for, not a list of things you want.
- Pray that God would change your focus.
8. Give Christ-centered gifts.
Giving gifts that will build faith is an excellent way to celebrate Christ at Christmas. The Unlocking the Bible Store has several items that would make excellent gifts:
- For the studious Christian: The ESV Study Bible
- For the new believer or non-Christian: Ten Keys for Unlocking the Bible
- For anyone wanting to get into the Word: The OneYear Unlocking the Bible Devotional
Writing a Christmas Bible verse on a Christmas card is a great way to point back to the Savior as well!
9. Make the highlight of your Christmas serving others.
Christ, himself, did not come to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45). Christmas can be a very self-centered time, and serving others provides you an opportunity to think about and meet the needs of others. Serving can happen in your church, a homeless shelter, giving a gift to the child of a prisoner, and many other ways.
Regina commented on our Facebook page on a way her family serves others during Christmas time:
We pool our Christmas money together and instead of buying gifts, we decided together on a relief organization to send it to. Our kids ask us every year what organization we can give to. We all enjoy it!
10. Share Christ with others.
The Christmas season may be the best time to invite people to church and strike up spiritual conversations. The topic of Christmas and Jesus Christ will come up often. Take advantage of that and share the life giving truth of the gospel! Take advantage of the fact that people are not satisfied with candy canes and mistletoe and that they long for something deeper and satisfying and that Jesus Christ will satisfy all of their thirsts and longings of this life, and the life to come.
If you send out a Christmas card or letter, you have a great opportunity to share the real meaning of Christmas and the source of true Christmas cheer, Jesus Christ.