I don’t get it.
For followers of Jesus Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. It is his birthday party.
So why do we encourage others to make lists of what they want? It’s not their birthday. I understand soliciting lists from people for their own birthday but not someone else’s. "Hey Bob did you know Stan's birthday is coming up so I made a list of the things I want." Sounds ludicrous doesn't it? But that is what we teach our kids.
I understand that I am in the minority with this approach to Jesus’ birthday. For most followers of Jesus it is the usual “must spend” attitude. They ask, “ why not celebrate Christmas by giving? Wouldn’t Jesus want us to be generous like him?”
And I would say that indeed we should be generous like Jesus. I think the question should be: Is our generosity pointed in the right direction? I cringe every time one my girls offer a list of what they want for Christmas. And I yearn for the year when they come to me with a list of what they want to get Jesus for his birthday. Of course they are just acting out of the training they’ve received – training to be self-centered.
But as a parent don’t you want to give your children gifts? Another great question.
The answer is simply - yes. But more important to me is their heart and their relationship with Jesus. Instead of teaching/modeling for them a self-centered, lust-fest of materialism approach to Jesus’ birthday, I’d rather teach them a sacrificial, others first, Jesus focused approach.
So let’s ask the question: Jesus, what do you want for your birthday? I think this might be a list that he would offer to us.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Mt 25:35-36 NIV
You might ask, “Well how do we do that?” and I would say that question just shows how unpracticed we are at getting Jesus what he actually wants for his birthday.
“But isn’t giving to my kids right along the lines of ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me' that Jesus taught?” (v 40 same chapter)
Great question but one that I believe is an attempt at veiling our self-centered/family-centered focus. Really, do our kids/family need more stuff? Are they going without food/shelter/clothing/hope/friendship? Is it really giving to Jesus when we give our kid another electronic gadget rather than giving that cash to the Denver Rescue Mission? The reason we ask for lists is because our kids/families have so much junk we've run out of ideas. Not only do they not have needs, we have no idea of what they want. And neither do they. All they know is they want more. AHHHHGG!!
I’m not a scrooge. I love celebrating Jesus’ birthday. I wish we would actually do it. I love showering my family with gifts, but I care more about their hearts.
. . .
(But Scott my family did send $50 to the Denver Rescue Mission. Well way to throw Jesus a bone . . . now let's get back to shopping . . .)