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Making Christmas Relevant

With Christmas only days away, many of us are scrambling for those last minute gifts. And yes, some of us haven’t even started shopping.

Of course, the idea of making my way to the mall to hunt for “the perfect gift” for members of my family and friends is both exciting and terrifying at the same time—exciting because giving gifts is part of what Christmas is about, terrifying because I have to join in on that part of the holiday that has, as most of us are aware, become a materialistic frenzy.

I’m not saying giving gifts is a bad idea; I just think that part of the holiday can quickly get out of control for a lot of us.

I cringe at the thought of people charging up their credit cards just to make their children happy with the latest fad, or adults returning gifts given from the heart because “it wasn’t what they wanted.”

As Christians, I think it sometimes seems like we’re trying to take back the “holiday” for Christ—the reason Christmas exists in the first place. Somehow a day set aside to recognize the promise of salvation made to us through the birth of Jesus has become a day when we ask ourselves, “What more can I get?”

The true meaning of Christmas needs to be reestablished, and we have a role to play in that. Christmas should be more about giving to those who are less fortunate, and less about giving to those who already have it all. How much sense does it make to celebrate our Savior’s birthday by giving ourselves presents? What better way to take Christmas back for Christ than to give in His name?

Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Why not celebrate His birthday by giving graciously to the poor? Do we really need that new hyped-up HDTV when an 18-year-old girl in Zimbabwe is prostituting herself just to be able to feed her children? Think of all the starving orphans in Africa who don’t have Palm Pilots. It’s almost become trite by now, but the facts are simple. For the price of a pair of socks, an infant in Zimbabwe can be saved from contracting AIDS through their mother‘s breast milk. For the price of a DVD, a child in India can be sponsored for a month through Compassion International.

By remembering those who are less fortunate, we’re doing more than just doing something moral that feels good. We’re obeying God’s command and subsequently changing the world.

How much time do we spend talking about Christianity, and how much time do we spend actually obeying God? I know in my life, the scale is tipped toward myself.

It’s important to keep in mind John 14:21, which says, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

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Gifts that give can include a donation to a friend’s favorite charity in their name, buying a coat for a child who is walking through the winter without one or simply giving of yourself as a volunteer at a local homeless shelter.

As those who celebrate the secularized version of Christmas see Christians celebrate the day in a Christ-like way, they might just begin to see the “Christ” in Christmas.

Of course, finding the right charity to donate to or support during the Christmas season can be just as difficult as finding the perfect gift for a loved one. However, if you’re in the spirit of giving, it will come to you.

Heck, you could simply ask Jesus what it is He wants for His birthday.

[Kevin Selders is a reporter in Olathe, Kan., and learned what it means to be relevant from Bono.]

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