Jesus Is Enough
This past week, while my wife was out picking up some Christmas gifts for our kids another shopper stopped her to express, in no uncertain terms, her hatred for the holidays. This poor lady’s statement was a simple, “I hate Christmas,” but my wife could feel the weight of the stress and frustration packed in those three words.
I think I know what she meant. I think I know, because I feel it, too.
Now, I don’t think this woman meant that she hates Christmas — the story of God coming down to earth as the man, Jesus, to save us from our sins. I don’t think she hates the virgin birth, the angel chorus singing glory to God before unsuspecting shepherds, or the wise-men bearing their gifts before the newborn King. I don’t think that’s what she meant.
Rather, I think what she meant is that she hates commercial Christmas. You know the one I’m talking about. The one that starts with the Black Friday sales at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day and ends promptly after Christmas dinner. The one that promises Christmas-joy is found on store shelves and is proportional to the price on the tag. The one that is sentimentally centered on being home for the holidays, enjoying romantic love, and feasting on endless platters of meats and treats.
Don’t get me wrong. I sincerely enjoy giving and getting gifts, probably too much. I’m grateful for the extra opportunities that Christmas often provides be with family and friends. I love making Christmas-time memories with my wife and kids, and I’m not one to complain about giant feasts. In and of themselves, these are all great things.
But — even with all of it’s truly great moments — commercial Christmas always overpromises and under-delivers. You know what I mean. For many of us, going home for Christmas feels as warm and inviting as going to a Siberian prison. The ‘perfect present’ you worked so hard to find for your loved one turns out to be the wrong size, and the gift you were most anticipating for yourself is nowhere to be found under the tree. The Christmas parties can leave you feeling alone in a crowded room, the worst kind of loneliness. And, inevitably, one impossible-to-find light burns out causing the whole string of lights — the one you spent way to much time trying to untangle and hang — to short-circuit and go dark.
It’s ironic that for all the feasting and gifts of the cultural, commercial Christmas, it leaves us feeling empty, void, and more aware than ever of our lack of abiding joy, peace, and love. It’s dizzying — the more we buy and do, the more we feel that we haven’t done enough. And the thing is, we never can do enough. No amount of food, gifts, parties, family time, or even giving and good deeds will ever be enough to bring us the true merriment we crave.
So, my exhortation this morning is this: Sit with this reality. Let it sink in afresh that, apart from Jesus, we are always lacking and that none of our bank-accounts or lines-of-credit are sufficient to cover the deficits we feel deep down in our bones. And from there, find rest from all the chaos from commercial Christmas in Jesus, the One who is always enough. Jesus — his incarnation, his death, and his resurrected life — is God’s proof that his love, his peace, and his joy know no limits and have no lack. And finally, to resolve, with God’s help, to reject the commercial Christmas of “more, more, more” and to instead give and get gifts, attend parties, and feast with family from a heart that embraces the good news of the real Christmas, which says “All I have needed, his hand hath provided; great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”
Prayer of Confession
Father, your faithfulness changes everything. Like salt on a sheet of ice, recalling your faithfulness and trusting your promise to always be faithful melts the anxieties that cause our spirits to slip into bitterness and unbelief, and also warms our hearts with gratitude for all you have given and done. Still, if we are honest, when we feel the lack of our lives, our propensity is to start trying to stuff the void with things. We try to please people, purchase joy, or engage in various forms of gluttony, rather than recall who we are and all we have as your children. Because the sin of trying to find satisfaction in gifts rather than you, the Giver, is so common-place and culturally normal, we often fail to recognize that this is a great evil. And, we know that if we in the church regard sin in our own midst, our prayers will be ineffectual. So we confess our individual sins to you now.
And Father, we thank you for Jesus. WE thank you that he is enough for us. That he deeply and fully satisfies. That he knows no limits and his love for us has no end. We thank you for him, we thank you that we are yours in him, and that through him you have blessed us with every spiritual blessing and have promised to give us all things. What a gift. And for all this, we thank you and praise you, in Jesus’s name. Amen.