Years ago I was watching television and wrapping Christmas gifts. There was a television show about the ‘true meaning of Christmas.’ I knew they were wrong, but truthfully, I did not know the true meaning of Christmas.
I learned what the true meaning of Christmas was a few years ago on a bus. The Missions Division that I worked for while with the Baptist General Convention of Texas took us on a trip to a mosque in Richardson, Texas, near Dallas. The imam met us. He showed us where to put our shoes, and showed us the wash room where Muslim men washed their hands, elbows, feet, face and nostrils before going into the main worship room.
We women had the option of wearing a headscarf and I did like the rest. We sat on the floor while the imam told us about their worship. He pointed to the upper room where he said the women ‘chose’ to worship. He said they could worship with the men, but they chose to climb the stairs and privately worship there.
The room we were in was a long rectangular room and the imam pointed out to us that it was long so that more men could be on the front row. He said they all wanted to be on the front row, and he showed us how they would nudge the other men out of the way with their elbow, and make their way to the front.
On the wall was the 99 attributes of God. My supervisor, who was a Christian Arab, said that none of the attributes said that God is love.
After it was over, we thanked the imam and put our shoes back on and took off our scarves, and climbed on the bus to go back to our offices. One supervisor who was also a preacher (as they all were) threw his hand up high and said:
“Thank God for Jesus!”
That is when I learned the true meaning of Christmas.
The Jewish people looked for a Messiah like King David. A powerful leader who would take down their enemies, make Jerusalem Jewish again, and who would die a mortal death, as all humans do. The scriptures promised them a savior and they anticipated his arrival.
What they got was not what they expected. Instead of a physical warrior who would defeat the Romans, they got a spiritual warrior who, instead of turning his eyes upon their enemies, turned his eyes upon their relationship to God. Particularly the laws they had expanded to make life miserable, and then the artful and deceitful ways they had of getting around those laws. Read Matthew 23 to see what Jesus had to say about their spiritual condition.
Jesus came to free us from the rigmarole that man had bound God with. All those laws didn’t mean anything (Matthew 24, Amos 5:21-24) because men had found ways to get around them. Jesus told them to love God with all their heart, and to love their fellow man. When love is the motivator, our worship of God, and helping our fellowman, will take on a different meaning. We will feed the hungry, help the poor, heal the sick, treat others as we want to be treated, and give the Good News to everyone.
Instead of being like Jesus, we still desire to make laws for Christians, especially laws about what women can and cannot do, and I wonder if Jesus would have turned his eyes upon us.
The true meaning of Christmas is the freedom that Jesus gave us. No more rigamarole such as the way to wash your hands before eating, and not working on the Sabbath – things that had absolutely no spiritual significance to them. In doing away with these things, Jesus said: “My yoke is easy and my load is light.” Matthew 11:30.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” Mark 12:31. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Thank God for Jesus!