Are you familiar with Jesus’ parable about the four soils? I have been thinking much lately about the thorny soil, on which the seed started to grow but was “choked out” by the thorns. Jesus later explains what the thorns represent: “And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature” (Luke 8:14).
I believe December brings with it many of these “thorns.” Commercialism hits even harder, as we take to Christmas shopping, and bow to seductions by great deals and the need for bigger, better, and more. Work gets busier, as many put in extra hours, either to get a short holiday break, to make extra to pay for all the shopping, or to keep the stores open for all the shoppers! Santa, his reindeer, and his elves, capture the attention of young children all over, who look forward to Christmas Day, in order to unwrap many new goods to capture all of their attention for the next month. Holiday parties, family gatherings, and travel time devour attention on top of all of that.
In a busy, fast-paced, demanding society, it is hard to fight through these thorns and fix our attention on what Christmas is all about. Maybe you’re able to squeeze in a church service on Christmas Eve. But a little sprout such as that, in the midst of giant thorns, will get choked out! I urge you, start your December this year with what is most meaningful – and arrange your time this month with that as your priority.
What is most meaningful? Christmas is ultimately a celebration of God’s entrance into the world as a human, becoming like us so that He could rescue us from our condemnation by paying the penalty on our behalf. Jesus came to reveal truth, to reveal God’s love for us, and to free us from sin and its punishment by bearing it all on the cross. Understanding who God is and how much He loves us is a meaningful pursuit at Christmastime!
Identify your meaningful pursuit this December, and simplify so that you can prioritize taking time to know and celebrate Jesus, and to enjoy these wonderful things with others. Celebrate the birth of Jesus together with your family – not Santa, or football, or material things. Celebrate the coming of a Savior together with your church. And reflect on the meaning of life when God loves us, rescues us, and empowers us.
Will the pleasures and worries of life choke out what’s important this Christmas, or will you let Jesus change your life?