Christmas Confusion

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The one word that keeps coming to mind about this time of the year is: confusion. 

The holidays are a weird time for me. There was never a set of traditions to be a source of constancy. I don’t know there really needs to be; but it seems like the thing to indicate such an important time. I mean, the LORD went to great lengths to set up a system of feasts for the Israelites to celebrate and remember certain things. So I thought my family was the odd one by not having some sacred repetition written in stone somewhere.

I spent many a childhood hour trying to see the connection between holiday seasons; but it seemed like no two years were alike. Between the many plans that were wrecked or rewired by absent family members, money struggles, the war in the Middle East, sickness, or inner questions, the only thing that seemed to stick around year after year was confusion. My soul was craving stability – that’s what the holiday seasons are all about, isn’t it?

It is a bold thing to say, but I would bet my best cardigan that you have experienced similar confusion at some point. The end-of-year holidays are just a weird time in general, and have been a source of much controversy over things like: consumerism, family, busyness, or that “to make or not to make a resolution list” controversy. 

The natural response to harsh weather is to cushion it with warmth and coziness. But no matter how many days off, how many cookies eaten, or movies watched, it seems like everyone I know always ends up more tired from the holidays than refreshed, even the students who are no longer chronically sleep deprived. Why is that?! 

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It’s not because of ignorance; I think we all feel the problem. We tell ourselves to stop, to think about life, and our God. But if a season is to be characterized by a focus on the holiness of God and His goodness, we must practice protecting the sacred. 

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in Him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” (Colossians 2:6-10 ESV)  

What is the first instruction given in this passage?

So walk in Him… what does that mean? Does the list of actions after that phrase give any clarity?

Let’s stop and think about the verb tenses of that list in verse 7 (rooted, built up, established, abounding). Does it sound like the believer is the one doing the action? Look at the list in the verses again. Where are you built up? Where are you established?

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6)

The Greek of this passage clearly declares that believers do not root themselves. Believers are rooted in Christ at the time when we receive Him. In the same way, we are not building ourselves up in Him. This is a little harder to believe, isn’t it? How are we supposed to live out these realities in the holiday season?

As you received Christ Jesus the Lord…  How is Jesus described in this phrase? How did you receive Jesus? Ephesians 2:8 tells us,

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

I know we spent a lot of time focusing on the first verse of the passage, but it is so pivotal. Yes, verse 8 gives us an actual list of things that we are to “see to;” but all of those things are in vain if we have not received Christ in the midst of it all.

Verses 9 and 10 give reasons why we are supposed to “see to” the list:

“For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in Him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”

What is in Christ? How much of it? What is in us? When did it happen?

I confess that I am still fighting the battle of holiday confusion. I selfishly want the holidays to be a time that serves my desires. But the Spirit desires for me to walk in Christ, which means that I have to receive Him and reject human traditions and philosophies that are not according to Christ. But what does that look like practically?

That means that I must take time and bind my thoughts and expectations for the season to Him, by protecting and setting aside time with Him, journaling, and by keeping these things in the forefront of my mind.

May the confusion of the empty philosophies about Christmas be set aside, and let the gift of Jesus Christ bring clarity in this season!

Joy

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