Ok, let's be honest with each other. You realize it too. Christmas in our society today is essentially a giant commercial for consumerism and warm fuzzy feelings. We spend, spend, spend our money on gifts and then spend a little bit of time with our families...or we just spend time with our gifts...but often it's just more stressful than anything else. Now, I'm all for family time, but having shopping as Necessary Christmas Component Number One is getting a little wearisome if you ask me. And neither of these things are the point. Whose birthday is it again? From all the money flying from person to person, it's hard to tell that we're really celebrating the birth of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
By the way, for those of you who are "offended" by people explicitly tying Jesus to a holiday which was founded to celebrate him just because you want to celebrate it yourself without him...umm, get your own holiday? Why are you offended by calling Christmas what it is? Trust me, I'm not going to accept an invitation to a birthday party at your house sometime and then tell you I'm offended by your choice of family and we should make the celebration more inclusive. If I really felt that way, I'd start my own party. So perhaps it's time to accept that Christmas is actually supposed to be Jesus' party, not yours, and stop pretending it's your God-given right to protest it.
Now, I fully recognize that for many people, Christmas is not actually a celebration of Jesus' birth, primarily because for whatever reason we think he's irrelevant to our lives or we don't associate ourselves with Christianity. But my point here is that no matter what you believe, the point of Christmas is not gifts. It's just not.
The point is love. That's a good word, right? So who are we loving? Jesus, the people around us, or the xbox? What am I loving with my money? What am I loving with my time? When you walk down the street in a hurry to get that last-minute Christmas shopping done on time, do you miss or ignore the man sleeping on the side of the road without a dollar or a warm meal, much less a gift or a family member, to his name? Do you pretend you couldn't or shouldn't do something for him (or her)? Do you spend more time with your presents on Christmas Day than you do with the God who provides everything for you or with those who really need your love (and his) the most?
Did you know that every year, Americans spend 450 billion dollars on Christmas? Stop and read that sentence again. 450 billion dollars. Every. Year. That's just the United States. Canadians, don't get cocky. Even with our significantly smaller population, we're still up over $30 billion a year on Christmas. Imagine what that total would be including the rest of the world too. Do you honestly think the money you spend on Christmas can't make a difference? Do you think it doesn't add up?
Did you also know that the estimated cost to make clean water available to everyone in the world is only 10 billion dollars? 450 billion dollars spent in one country alone every single year on Christmas. 10 billion dollars could solve the entire world water problem, which by the way kills more people in the world than anything...annnnd the presents win. Wow. Go human race! We're so advanced! Way to look out for our own! We rock, guys!
Do you see what could happen here? This is something I am incredibly passionate about, and I hope that you will be too. We can make a difference. We can spend less money on useless and unnecessary gifts that will just fade away with our corpses in the end, and instead we can help people who really need it all over the world this Christmas. And every Christmas to come. Will you be a part of this movement? Will you help make Christmas what it was supposed to be all about? I certainly want to. But will we act on it? World Vision, Samaritan's Purse and Power to Change are just a few examples of organizations offering opportunities to invest your money in saving the lives of others this Christmas.
Advent Conspiracy is the name of the movement that first really got me thinking about this a couple of years ago. You can check out their Christmas video in the WakeUpWorld! section of this site. I encourage you to give it a watch and then spread it around.
What is this Christmas really going to mean to you? Just a bunch of gifts? Just loving your family and no one else who really needs your love? Just yourself? Or do you want to look back on this Christmas as the first of many devoted to making this world a more loving and selfless place? You could be a part of that. If you want to be. Just saying.