One of the things I have realized this year is that marketing really works.The big companies do it really well… especially at Christmas.Now I don’t notice it as much from a TV stand point anymore as I have not had cable for years, but I do it hear on the radio and see it on the internet and in newspapers etc etc..They just know how to get your eyes on something and then you struggle to get your eyes off of it.The latest greatest 3D TV, or tablet or phone; maybe it’s the latest clothing line, or a new video game or new appliance for the house.A book, a movie, new music, perhaps it’s not the physical stuff at all – maybe it’s the parties, the shopping, the decorations.Maybe it’s your family.Sometimes they offer the sweetest 2 for 1 deal and we think “wow that is such a good value”; but did you really need 2 of those though?Whatever it is we begin to focus on it and develop plans for getting it. Most our will is bent on having it or experiencing it.We say “Maybe mom or dad can get that for me for Christmas”.Or “let’s spend a little less here on this so that we have more money to spend on that”.Soon these things become almost our singular goal. What is even scarier is that the kids get stuck on this stuff and they have very little ability to think about anything else.It reminds me of that movie “A Christmas Story”.You know the one with the classic Ralphie line:“I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!” and for the rest of the movie he works at ensuring that he gets this particular item.In essence this becomes his modus operandi.
I initially thought to myself how brilliant are the marketing companies that come up with flashy images and slogans and ways of piquing the interest of humanity in STUFF.Ralphie fell prey to it and so do we.Isn’t this all that it really is?At the end of the day or season it’s just stuff; things that simply get us into another head space chasing after things that don’t really matter.
Today I ask us to reflect on the question: What have we set our eyes on this Christmas?Realize that I am not saying that we cannot exchange gifts or enjoy the lights and music and fellowship that go along with the festivities.Rather I am asking what is it that turns the crank for us at Christmas and serves as our “raison d’etre” It should be, has to be Christ.I love the apostle Paul’s summation of his modus operandi:“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13- 14 NASB)Beautiful! Paul had set his eyes on everything that was Christ.The commentator Dave Guzik suggests that “the prize is being able to run the race at all, working with God as a partner to do the work of His kingdom” – in short making almighty God and His great salvation known.The imagery from the original Greek suggests the idea of pursuing a target.In fact one of the words used is “skopon” which literally means “target” or “goal”.This is the one of the words that our English word “scope” is derived from.Are we, like Paul, zooming in on the main thing or are we aiming our own scope at things which are not in line with God’s kingdom and getting caught up with things that distract us from Him.In a world filled with distraction, where the enemy is installing glitz and glamour and stuff in an attempt to disengage our focus on God, we must hold diligently to the prize of running the race set before us.If we don’t focus on to the celebration of the coming of salvation into the world- who will? The world is chasing baubles and glittering prizes.Today it is time to refocus, recalibrate and return to the heart of all that we believe:Jesus- born into lowly circumstance, died for the sin of humanity, raised to life and given the highest place as a reward: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.There is no greater cause of a gleam in the eye, then the gleam which is but a reflection of the brightness of Him.
Let me close with this: A couple of days ago, my almost 4 year old daughter and I watched “The Nativity Story” and I was challenged and brought to tears by her simple understanding of what Christmas is about.We have not practiced the Santa stuff, or pushed Rudolph and Frosty and all of the modern day Christmas imagery (though she knows about these things).We have however from the time that she could understand books, read to her again and again the stories of Advent telling her the importance of the coming of Jesus (I might add that a little over a week ago, my little girl gave her heart to Jesus and she is able to explain what happened and what Jesus has done for her- proud moment for a dad I must say).And here just a couple of days ago, I saw how keeping the focus on Christ at Christmas made all the difference to her little world.I sat beside her on the couch and listened to her recognizing the shepherds and the wise men and the gifts that they brought to the king of kings.To her this is what Christmas was about.As I watched there were tears in my eyes and a gleam in hers.Christmas to her was only about Jesus.
God I ask that you would give me the gleam in my eyes that so sparkles in my daughter’s- The one that says Christmas is all about Jesus.