We've been talking this week about what happens when we fall more in love with the things of God than with God Himself and when our walks become silly walks - walks of doing more than of being, walks of just living more than of loving. This kind of slow slipping away affects us down to the core of our souls, and it also affects the soul of our world.
We see this nowhere more prominently than now, at Christmastime.
It's amazing how quietly Jesus has been slipping away from our Christmas. How slowly, but surely, it's harder and harder to find any religious-themed Christmas items. This year, I found myself looking for a little church or an angel or a manger or something (for a secret Santa that I know is a Christian), and I couldn't find anything. I have been listening for years to my Christian radio station play more and more songs about Santa and reindeer than about Jesus during this time of year. And it's just disheartening for me to turn on a station that I know for its encouraging, hope-filled, positive music and hear that grandma got run over by a reindeer.
But the truth is that our culture is winning the war on Christmas because even we are falling more in love with the things of this season than the reason for it. Even we are investing ourselves, and even our children, more into Santa and presents and red kettles and mistletoe. We keep telling ourselves that it's Christmas, that we know it's about Jesus, but we aren't living like it's about Jesus. An increasing number of churches are telling the story of Luke 2 on Sunday morning, but on Saturday morning, Santa will be here! Santa! I know him!
We're creating for our kids, and our culture, this notion where Christmas can be both cultural and sacred, and the truth is...we're losing that battle. We start buying different kinds of Christmas cards and only sending the ones with Scripture on them to those we know we aren't going to offend. We put out the manger, but we surround it with candy canes and elves and snowmen, just so the neighbors know we aren't those kind of people. You know. Religious nut-job kind of people. We move the Bible off the coffee table to set up the lantern with the candle in it. We pull the Cross off the fence to hang up the sleigh. We take the Christian welcome sign off the door to hang the wreath.
And then the world looks around and wonders why we don't even care about the manger this year. Why we aren't even looking for Jesus at Christmas, the very time He's been promised to be with us.
I don't know if we're afraid of offending the world or if it's that we come from a generation that has been trying to give its kids everything or if it's just this mix of trying to be in the world but not of the world. I don't really know what it is. What I know, though, is that by and large, Christians are not pointing to the manger at Christmas any more (unless, of course, we can get you to come to church with us, and then our pastor will do that...hopefully). Even we are not putting Jesus front and center at the very time of the year that is named for Him.
And if we're not following the star to Bethlehem, we can't really be surprised that no one else is, either.
This is why our personal, devotional walk is so important. This is why we can't let the love of God start slipping away from us. Sometimes, we convince ourselves that it doesn't matter that much, but I'm telling you - it does. It matters down to our very souls, and to the soul of our world.
If you aren't convinced of that, just try looking for Jesus this Christmas.
Spoiler alert: He's not the big guy in the red suit.