o come all ye faithful. 

***Originally published on Whole Magazine December 25, 2014***

Approaching the Christmas season each year, as a Christian, I get really irked. You would think I would be so excited, right? The whole thing started in order to celebrate and honor the birth of my Savior! But in American culture, it is hard to see that sometimes. The holiday most of us celebrate is about time away from work and – let’s be honest – spending money on our family and friends.Last year, this was particularly difficult for me. We had a million places to be and I dreaded driving around all day from place to place, just to give out and receive presents none of us really needed, you know? I was trying to find a balance between allowing my then four year-old daughter to have fun while still directing her humbly to Christ (especially hard with everyone asking if she’d been a “good girl for Santa”). I was overwhelmed. I was frustrated. I was exhausted. My heart was in utter despair. I was searching for God like He had gone missing. I looked high and low for any bit of Christ that might’ve been left in Christmas, in our Americanized and commercialized holiday. I was looking for places that His birth was being glorified, or at least for it to be a PART of the holiday.

But He won’t be found in traditional American Christmas, because traditional American Christmas is not found in Him. He’s not in the world, because the world is not in Him. 

“If someone… does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.” (1 John 4:3 NLT)

When Jesus was tempted in Matthew 4:8, the Bible tells us that the devil offered Him the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Satan is definitely at work in the world, even to the point of owning it. To make it worse, he’s always seeking out his next victim. “Watch out for your enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT). Of course he is going to take everything about one of the most God-glorifying days of the year and try to twist it and pervert it, so that all of the focus is off of what should be the focus: Jesus. 
The good news for us is that, though Christ might not be in the world, He is in here – in our hearts, where He has asked to be sought out and found. And He has overcome the world.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13 NLT).

“Christ wasn’t just born 2000 years ago. He can be born in your heart today.” –Jud Wilhite
“I have told you these things so that you might have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT). 
The world may not know Christmas, but we do.
He is not allowed to be a part of His own birthday. Saint Nicholas has been perverted from a follower of Christ to an obese man creeping down chimneys. Gift giving has morphed from genuine generosity and love to an inflated and required way to one-up the ‘Jones’’. Parents lie to their kids about Santa, making them believe it’s all about being good girls and boys for someone who does not exist.

But Christ, the Prince of Peace, and Usher of Grace is alive in the hearts of us, His disciples, and we are a part of His redemptive plan. He’s not in whatever Christmas has become, but He’s in Christian hearts all over the world that we might carry him into a world that does not quite know how badly they need Him.

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.” (1 John 4:4-6 NLT).

The fact that the world will not listen to us when we tell them “Jesus is the reason for the season” should not surprise us even in the slightest. We were warned they would not in the Bible. But we can still introduce them to the glory of Christ by showing it to them, and that is why “O Come All Ye Faithful” is held so closely to my heart each Christmas season. If you are not familiar, this is the carol:

“Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.

Come and behold Him,

Born the King of Angels;

O come, let us adore Him,

O come, let us adore Him,

O come, let us adore Him,

Christ the Lord.
O Sing, choirs of angels,

Sing in exultation,

Sing all that hear in heaven God’s holy word.

Give to our Father glory in the Highest;

O come, let us adore Him,

O come, let us adore Him,

O come, let us adore Him,

Christ the Lord.

All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,

O Jesus! Forevermore be Thy name adored.

Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;

O come, let us adore Him,

O come, let us adore Him,

O come, let us adore Him

Christ the Lord.”

Adoration is defined as deep love and respect, worship, and veneration and reverence. The carol calls all of Christ’s faithful followers and disciples to “come and adore Him.” Come revere and worship Him. Come lift His name high. Come pay Him respects. It calls for us to celebrate Him in song and to exalt Him but most importantly, it calls us to come and LOVE Him.
And it is through that love that the world will see Him and know He is God.

“God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love – not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.” (1 John 4:9-12 NLT).

We can offer love to Christ by offering love to those around us. When we take care of the least of these, we do for Him (Matthew 25:40), and He tells us also, that when our light is shone before others, they see our good deeds and God gets all the glory (Matthew 5:16).
Let us love Christ this season! Let us come to Him with the only gift we have to offer: the lives He gave to us (Romans 12:1), and let us offer it in love to Him. And let His love, in turn, flow through us, as we serve as He has called us to serve – be that for our families, the poor, the unfortunate, the sick, or the spiritually bankrupt. Let them know Him and His love through us and our awareness of His love for each person on this earth. And, furthermore, let us do it together – united as His body, that they may see our love for one another, and know that He is the glue that binds us as one. 
I leave you with this prayer that Paul first prayed for the Ephesians, that I thank the Lord was recorded in the Bible because I gladly join him now, centuries after: 

“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen!”
Original publication: http://www.wholemagazine.org/posts/olemagazine.org/2014/12/o-come-all-ye-faithful.html?rq=samantha%20iammarino

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