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FIRST-PERSON: Worship the right child for the right reason

DENVER (BP)–Christmas is here and the shopping malls are teeming with people. For a moment in time it appears blissful and people seem to care … again. Care about what? Good question, one that I have been pondering.

While in a gleefully cheery mood recently, I decided to do a little shopping myself. I could almost hear the words most parents probably were hearing, “Daddy, I want…” and “Mommy, can you get me ____ for Christmas?” Rushing to the stores before the “sold out” signs hit you like a brick and your heart is saddened, you find a line of people with the same requests from their children that you had from yours.

The question is, How much advertising went into getting all the kids to agree on a product? And, how many parents jostling in that line are there as a result of advertising?

Deciding to escape the madness, I jumped out of the line and went to grab a coffee – from a store that had been advertised throughout the holiday season. Ashamed of what I was becoming — a child-worshiping, advertising-driven, Christmas shopping machine -– I had to regroup.

What is this cheerful message of Christmas all about? I knew the answer; I have taught it at church every year and written about it every December. It is articulated in our Christmas plays. Christmas is the reason I became a pastor.
A child was born to be my Savior. I owe Christ everything. It is that simple.

My testimony should tell of the impact Jesus has on my life. I try so hard to make the point that Christmas is not about presents, or a tree the Greeks thought was brought by angels, or red, white and green lights illuminating houses all over the world, but I still end up in lines fighting to please my children, adhering to the Christmas list as much as possible.

How did we get from wise men bearing gifts for the King to parents who willingly become debt-laden in order to bear gifts for their children? Every year parents struggle, taking money out of savings, working overtime and doing whatever it takes to please the materialistic mentality we’ve instilled in our kids over the years.

A website named “Christmas Around the World” confirms my fears:

— In Ireland: “children often put out Christmas sacks instead of stockings. It is tradition to leave mince pies and a bottle of Guinness out as a snack for Santa.”

— In Spain: “Papa Noel delivers his presents by climbing up balconies. On January 6, the three wise men come to visit and also leave gifts for the children.”

— In Italy: “on the evening of the day after Christmas, children are visited by a good witch named Strega Buffana. She flies around Italy on a broom and leaves treats for good children and coal for naughty children.”

— In Austria: “on December 6, Heiliger Nikolaus (St. Nicholas) rewards good children with sweets, nuts and apples. On December 24, the Christ Child brings presents and the Christmas tree for the children. The children wait until they hear a bell tinkling. Then they enter a special room where the Christmas tree is waiting all decorated with candles, ornaments and candies. The whole family sings Christmas carols and wishes each other [a Merry Christmas].”

The evidence for “child worship” goes on and on. Rarely does it focus on the right child and the right reason. Aside from the debt often incurred during this time through bad financial decisions, the “I wish I could have done more” feeling of guilt sets in after we watch the kids tear through 20 gifts in five minutes. It never really seems to be fulfilling, especially when we can’t find half of the toys and gifts a month later. Yet we do it every year.

Christmas celebrated for the right reason with the right motives should turn wise parents from shopping lines and dwindled bank accounts to Jesus Christ the King. A wonderful gift of salvation has already been given, and a wise parent would travel to be where the King resides, bearing a meaningful gift of time with Him.

Ending child worship and beginning God worship would be an admirable thing, especially in light of God’s Word to “suffer the children to come unto me.” Teach your children to run to Jesus and let your King enjoy His children (that includes you) this Christmas. Our King resides in believing, humble, serving hearts.
Michael Romero oversees the bilingual ministries of Riverside Baptist Church in Denver.

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  • Michael Romero