“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap;” (Luke 21:33–34, NASB95)
Christmas – a time of anticipation, celebration, expectation – and for many – anxiety and depression. Christmas is suppose to be the time of the year when we celebrate the “Advent” or coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! We look forward to the arrival of the baby in the manger – the one who ushers in Salvation and freedom for all who will receive it. We also look forward to The King of Kings, returning to complete His act of Salvation for all who believe in Him! We know, in our minds, that Jesus has won the victory, and that we are freed from sin and death. So why do so many still struggle with stress and anxiety during this time of celebration?
In the Gospel reading for the first Sunday of Advent, Jesus warns us that we should not allow our “hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life.” What, exactly, does this mean? One thesaurus offers “over consumption” as an alternative to “dissipation.” Might it be that Christ is admonishing us to remember that what we seek, we will find? Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heat will be also.” Our our hearts so set upon the “treasures of this world” that we are neglecting the greatest treasure of peace with God through Christ?
Advent is a time to prepare for the arrival of the King. Jesus, as He prepares the Disciples, and us, for His final return, warns us to not be so caught up in, and focussed upon the things of this world that they control us! The world is constantly bombarding us with the need to prepare for the “holidays” with Pre-Black Friday sales, Thanksgiving day sales, Black Friday sales, Cyber Monday sales, etc. etc. It’s so easy to get caught up in the material aspects of “the Holidays” that, before we know it, we are drunk with material things, and worried about the gifts we bought, the sales we missed, and the gifts we may have forgotten! All the while, we neglect the things of the heart – which Jesus warns us against.
I don’t know about you, but for me, I often feel the most anxiety in my life when I am making poor decisions and neglecting the light of God’s truth in my life. Could it be that so many feel such anxiety during this time of the year because they are living to please themselves or those around them, rather than living to please God? The commercialism of Christmas is based upon this idea – the perfect gift will make every spouse, child and parent happy…right? (Pay attention to the commercials – everything ends beautifully if you use their product.) If I don’t get what my child wants then it may harm them in some way…right? If I forget a gift, I may cause hurt feelings.
Jesus warns us to be careful that we don’t get weighed down with dissipation. What might it look like, if instead, we stepped back as individuals and families, from all of the “stuff” and “fluff” of Christmas to focus instead on Christ and His return? Might we then consider the importance of offering to others the gift of eternal life by introducing them to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior? Talk about a gift that just keeps giving! The Energizer Bunny has nothing on Jesus!
You can make a real difference in your life and in the lives of those around you – with the help of Christ. Focus on what He calls you too – through the reading of His Word, through prayer, and through worship and through sharing the light of His truths through word and deed this Christmas. By focusing on how He is inviting you to participate in His Kingdom Work, rather than seeking to please others, I believe His peace will begin to reign in your life and in the life of your family. Make decision on how much (or how little) to spend this year based on Godly principles of stewardship rather than on making sure everyone has the latest and greatest. Make decisions on what gifts to give based on Godly principles of generosity and need rather than ego. Choose to invest more time and energy in your relationships – first with Christ, and then with family, friends, and neighbors! Invite a widow or widower to share in a family meal with you during the Advent season! Establish Christ centered memories that your children will cling to in years to come! Find ways to actively take back the Christmas season from the world placing it squarely upon Christ.
In doing these simple things, I believe that we will see our anxiety and frustrations diminish, and our faith and joy increase. We will be driven by the power of the Holy Spirit, rather than the winds of culture. We will truly become a light on the hill!