This is a question one hears a great deal this time of year. Usually it is asked as some form of rebuttal to the idea that Christmas is all about getting newer, bigger, better, faster stuff. Of course, there are almost as many answers to the question as there are people asking it.
One of the most given answers is that Christmas isn't about getting but about giving, especially to those less fortunate than ourselves. Generosity is the true meaning of Christmas.
Another very popular idea is that Christmas is all about family. We should forget all the petty squabbles and disagreements and come together to celebrate and be thankful for one another.
One might also hear that Christmas is all about putting other ahead of yourself. Selflessness is the true meaning of Christmas.
All those ideas, generosity, family, and selflessness, are worthy things to pursue. Certainly we could all stand to demonstrate these traits in our lives more consistently and not just during the Christmas season.
But none of those things are the true meaning of Christmas.
No, the true meaning of Christmas is much greater than all those things. The true meaning of Christmas can be found in Philippians 2:6-8.
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Christmas is about celebrating the mind blowing grace and mercy of our God who would leave His glorious throne in heaven to become human, die a criminal's death on a cross so that He might redeem all who believe on Him. The true meaning of Christmas has very little, if anything at all, to do with us and everything to do with Jesus.
Remember that Jesus wasn't obligated to come, wasn't obligated to save any of us. As a matter of fact, had He chosen instead to condemn us all for our wicked rebellion against His holiness He would have been just in doing so. However, in His great mercy condescends to put on the very flesh of the creatures who spurned His goodness and to set about rescuing all the Father had given to Him (John 6:37-39).
So, this Chrismas season as you gather with your family and experience the joys of giving generously to others, remember the true meaning of Christmas: that Jesus left glory and became a man to seek and save that which was lost.
Don't let the Christmas tree obscure your view of the Calvary tree.