It is a beautiful, yet cold, winter morning here in Northeast Ohio. The sun is shining brightly, the sky is a pale, ice blue, not a cloud in sight. The air is brisk and biting. It is the Monday before Christmas — school children are on winter break, homes are glowing with love and embers of the crackling wood in fireplaces. We have much to be thankful for this holiday season, for more than anything, we have Jesus.
We have love, we have peace, we have joy. We have Jesus.
We have food in our bellies, salvation in our souls, and presents pouring out from underneath the Christmas tree.
However, there are a few scriptures that I feel like God has put on my heart the past few weeks. It felt odd that they would come around Christmastime, yet last night I finally understood their meaning and the reasoning behind their poignance during this special season.
And [Jesus] told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
~Luke 12:16-21 ESV
“I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my goods.” What would you say are the first few words that come to your mind after hearing this parable? Greed? Selfishness? Preparedness? Hoarder? While Christmas shopping last week — I dislike shopping quite a lot, by the way — I was overcome by the amount of stuff in the stores. Boxes piled high, clothing stuffed onto racks, items falling off shelves. Then I began to notice stores, hotels, schools and restaurants being torn down in favor of building newer, better, bigger, buildings.
Consumerism, which is the movement or policies aimed at regulating the products, services, methods, and standards of manufacturers, sellers, and advertisers in the interests of the buyer, has swept America off her feet in infatuation. We are possessed with buying the latest technological gadgets, owning the newest vehicle models, wearing the latest trends of clothing. Now, at Christmastime, this obsession with buying and having has taken over our thought processes.
This was bothering me so much that I told my family they were each only getting one present each from me this year! I relented a little and ended up purchasing two gifts a piece; but regardless, I felt such a sense of peace in my spirit knowing that I had not overspent or overindulged. I love my family, they know that, but I do not want gifts and things to replace that love.
I did not stop there, though. Last night after church I came home and purged my closet. Why do I need to hang on to dresses I wore when I was sixteen? Not only do they no longer fit, styles have changed, and I haven’t worn them in ten years! Many times over the last few months I have moaned that “I needed a bigger closet” or that “I don’t have enough space for everything.” When in reality, I did not need the proverbial bigger barn: I needed perspective. I filled up two huge boxes of clothing to donate and give away, and friend, my heart felt so light. So free. So disconnected from the world and its greediness.
As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
~Mark 10:17-22 NASB
I want to follow Jesus, always. But here and now? During this holiday season? Yes, even now. Even amidst the deals and bargains we see in flashing red and green lights. Even when consumerism is at its peak. Even when we are busy Christmasing and filling our homes with music, cookies, and people. I want Jesus to always be at the center. For this is Christmas — this is the time we set aside to celebrate HIM, to honor HIM, to represent HIM to our world.
It is Christmas time, it is time to follow Jesus!
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