Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
As the day when we will celebrate the first coming of our great Savior draws all the more near, I find myself wondering if we are doing all we can to keep the focus on Him. I wonder what more we could do to make certain there is no confusion over why we give good gifts and eat fanciful foods. What I have decided is, no matter what we choose to incorporate or not, there will always be things that divide us. We need to do our best to remain at peace with the Prince of Peace. And yet, our Prince of Peace tells us not so subtly that he came to bring not peace, but division (Luke 12:51). Ouch. I know this is not a popular verse, but the reality is that, when it comes to living out our faith in the risen Lord, we may walk a lonesome (but not lonely) path. And oftentimes, that division is with those in our own family. Do you feel all warm and fuzzy yet?
I have been thinking a great deal about the themes of peace and division as we yet again approach Christmas morning. While many people we know will be waking to see what a magical man in a big red suit left under their tree, many others will celebrate simply—but with just as much joy—without having a chimney and “naughty or nice” list involved.
You probably will not be surprised to know that, when I was pregnant with our firstborn, my husband and I had the “Santa talk” and decided we were not going to make him a reality in our home—other than teaching about the real Saint Nicholas. We had no way of knowing at the time we made this decision the division one fictional character would cause among family and friends. “Shocking” doesn’t begin to describe the amount of passion involved as people defend their views of cookies, carrots, and Kris Kringle. One might think those who aren’t jumping on the blissful belly full of jelly bandwagon are setting the world ablaze with our horrific cultural rebellion of this icon. If only those well-meaning folks who are overly concerned that my children are missing out on the “joy of Christmas” were half as concerned over all children knowing the true joy of Christmas—Jesus—well, I wouldn’t have this little post to pen. Where there is peace, there is also division.
Now, should you be reading this and find yourself flabbergasted at the choice God laid on our hearts, I do want to put you at ease and let you know that while we are busy raising little sinners, we are also trying our best to at least raise kind ones. We try to raise kids who know that others celebrate differently and know not to spill the beans on their traditions. Why would we do that, you ask? Because no matter what things divide, we can be peacemakers and not allow anything to take the focus off of the One who was born as our Gift. Perhaps by living securely in those things our families have been called to do (or not do), we will better reflect the peace that comes in embracing the Prince of Peace.
The man in the red suit is not our enemy, and neither are those who don’t incorporate him into their holiday celebrations. Our enemy is the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10)—and, boy, does he love to destroy every good thing. My advice this Christmas? Don’t be the Scrooge. Don’t join him in stealing what makes other families happy—even if you disagree or do things differently. Do be the mom, dad, or grandparent who lives to show your family that no matter who they say leaves gifts under the tree, the real Gift will never be in a box. The real Gift isn’t given only to those who have been “good enough” to receive Him—or no one would have Him! (Romans 3:10). No, dear friends—the reality is that Jesus came for everyone and wants all children (and their parents) to know there is no sin so great that His grace is not greater still! Seek His peace, and you will no longer find yourself consumed with things that divide but consumed with peaceful things above.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4).
In closing, I want you to know that even though what you do as a family may look different than everyone around you, it doesn’t make what you do wrong. It’s only wrong if it’s not God’s will for your family! Bear this in mind as you lead your children to know the real Gift of Jesus.
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and recently welcomed the arrival of their first little girl. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.
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