I often wonder where we went wrong as a society in America. A majority of our kids are walking away from church and the faith when they get old enough to make their own decisions.
I have spent a lot of time in thought over this issue. And I have done much research for my book on the topic of passing on faith in Christ to our kids.
While on the treadmill the other day, a commercial came on about kids asking Santa to bring them their favorite toys. A scooter for $1,000, a princess carriage for $400, an American Girl doll and accessories for $120, etc.
It hit me that this is one of the ways we, as a society, have gone wrong.
Christmas is the story of Jesus coming to the world to save us. He was a King, yet there has never been anyone more humble than Jesus Christ. His crown was made of thorns not adorned with jewels. Jesus came with a message of love, grace and hope. He was the very picture of humility and selflessness.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, Philippians 2:5-7
He taught us to love our enemies, take care of the poor, and turn the other cheek. He taught us to focus our attention outward, on others.
Yet often, at Christmas time, we send the message to our kids that causes them to focus inward. The message of Santa Claus is to focus on me. What do I want for Christmas? How many presents will I get this year?
Parents spend and spend on Christmas presents for their kids. And the holiday season becomes about selfishness, not selflessness.
At a pivotal age, we teach our kids the rituals of Christmas. We teach them to work hard and be nice, so they will get presents. God forbid they be on the naughty list! We teach them to focus on “what will get me stuff?” We teach them to focus on themselves.
Selfishness is human nature. We are born with it. Parents, little by little, have to teach kids to change their nature and to become selfless.
What if we had never introduced Santa Clause, Rudolph or Frosty? What if our observance of Christmas had always been about the message of Christ? What if we taught our kids selflessness at Christmas?
As I write this, A Charlie Brown Christmas is on TV. The message of Charles Schulz in this show is brilliant. He saw the materialism and all the silly things we focus on during the Christmas season back in 1965. He tried to portray the true meaning of the birth of Christ, and show us how we have strayed from it.
Schulz illustrated beautifully how we were, and still are, valuing the wrong things during the Christmas season. The money, the stuff, the decorations, the lights . . . .
Charlie Brown: “I am in sad shape.”
Lucy: “Wait a minute, before you begin I must ask that you pay in advance. 5 cents please.” (Charlie Brown puts a nickle in the can)
Lucy: “Boy what a sound! How I love hearing that old money plink! That beautiful sound of cold, hard, cash! That beautiful, beautiful sound! Nickles, nickles, nickles! That beautiful sound of plinking nickles!”
How we handle Christmas speaks volumes to our kids about our faith. If we treat the birth of Christ like it is no big deal, or ignore it completely at Christmas, our kids will see that it is less important than the ‘American Christmas.’
We must get back to teaching our kids the message of Christ at Christmas.
“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.”
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:35-40
Christmas is one of the ways that we, as an American society have gone wrong.