In another article (112) in this set (why do people persist in believing things that are not true? (108)) we turned toward the current season (why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25 when it is an acknowledged fact of history that no one knows the date of the birth of the Son of God?). I would like to continue this blending of this theme with the season this week. [Editor's note: this article was written on December 13, 1994.] The issue that I want to raise is this: Those who do the surveys tell us that more people get depressed at this time of the year than any other. My question is, Why?
Is it too much sugar in the blood? Is it too many late nights and early mornings? Is it too many meetings stacked too deep? Is it too many commitments to too many directions? Is it too much shopping? Too much debt accumulation? Too much inter-family conflict?
Does God want us to observe the birth of His Son under a cloud of current or looming depression? If He doesn't, why do we? The short answer is: because we persist in believing things that are not true. We believe we are free to stuff our faces at every turn--because it's Christmas--and we endure the depression of too much sugar. We believe we must keep up with the frenetic pace the culture imposes upon us--because it's Christmas--and we endure the inevitable let-down of living under too much pressure. We think--because it's Christmas--that we have to mix and mingle with family members who create a lot of pain for us, and we enter the gates of depression because of the conflict it creates in us. Like I said, the short answer is: we persist in believing things that are not true.
Christmas was given to us by the God of love, light, and life. It has been turned, by our adversary the devil, into an orgy of overindulgence (of food, debt, programs, and activity). And we have let him by believing his lies. He will do anything he can to make sure that the good gifts of God are not enjoyed by the children of men. And the fact that more people are/get depressed at this time of the year shows how successful he has been.
What would God have us do during the Christmas season?
First, He would have us slow down long enough to ask: Why am I doing what I am doing? Is it to please Him or to please someone else? Who said we had to buy all these gifts, attend all these meetings, and spend ourselves silly to accumulate a debt load that He is not pleased with? Why are we doing what we are doing?
Second, He would have us remember whose birthday it is. What will be our gift to Him? It is not your birthday; why should you get any gifts? It is not my birthday; why should I get any gifts? But it is the birthday celebration of the Son of God. Wise men still give Him the primary gift. But what is the primary gift?
Let me answer that question with a question: why did He come? The Bible says He came to purchase people from every kindred, language group, tribe, and nation (Revelation 5:9). So, the best gift we can give Him is ourselves. Will you give that?