How Can Christmas Make Me Happy Forever?
December 25, 2021
Christmas is meant to be a happy time, as all the commercials, music and stores tell us over and over again. The movies around Christmas encourage us that we can be happy now—we can forget real life for a little bit at least. If we do not enter into the ‘Christmas spirit,’ then we are a ‘Scrooge,’ or like the Grinch we are trying to ‘steal Christmas.’ Christmas is a happy time, we are told. There is certainly some truth to that. Lots of us look forward to Christmas immensely. We gather with our families. We enjoy the time to be away from work and school, to relax, chill, lie back and take life easy for a little bit.
But actually Christmas is not just about us being happy for a few days. Usually after Christmas there is a big feeling of letdown. We have opened all the presents. We have drunk all the eggnog we can stomach for another year. We cannot listen to yet another rendition of ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ without feeling nauseated. And it’s all over—we were ‘happy’ for a moment, perhaps, but that’s it. Now we have to take all the decorations down, store them in the basement or attic, and look forward to snow for a month or two or three, before we enter into spring.
But Christmas is more than that. Actually in Christmas there is the secret to be happy forever (eternal joy). It requires three simple (not simplistic) steps.
If God, in His infinite wisdom, decides that the solution to all our problems is to become a man, to be born as a child, grow up, live in humility and mercy, die on a cross, rise again, ascend on high—if all this is His way to provide us with eternal life, joy and peace, then our response cannot be superficial.
Imagine if someone you knew decided that they were going to do something for you. Here’s what they did: they got pregnant. They carried the baby to term. They brought the baby to you. They put him in a little basket, left him by the front door, rang the bell, and when you opened the door you found the newborn with a note attached. The note said, ‘We felt you needed help to be eternally happy, so we decided to give you this child to grow up, live and die for you. He’s all yours. He’s your Savior.’
How would you respond? Not a dry eye. Not a superficial moment in sight. You would be horrified, amazed, stunned. It would certainly cause you to change your life. You would never be the same again.
Christmas is saying that the way to be happy forever with God is to live a completely new life with God as your King. That is radical repentance. ‘Radical’ means ‘by or from the root.’ It is the opposite of superficial. It means deep down inside, from the basis of your philosophy of life, to your attitude, to every part of you, there is now a life of change. ‘Repentance’ means thinking differently. It’s a new mindset, not just intellectually, but your whole attitude and shape of your life and will, all that is you is headed in a new direction. Radical change. That’s the way to be happy forever, living now with Christ as your King.
For instance, this Christmas you might decide that instead of just ‘going with the flow’, the very message of Christmas requires you to do some good hard thinking and conduct a ‘life review.’ You might say that your life is summarized as Labor, Influence, Finance, Expertise. To what extent are you using these aspects of your life for Christ and His kingdom? Are you giving your hard work or labor for the advance of the kingdom? Are you using your influence with your friends, family, business contacts for the kingdom? Are you using your finances for the kingdom, not being just a tipper or even a tither but a resource of the kingdom with gospel generosity? Are you using your expertise for the kingdom—your skills, your spiritual gifts? If you are good at cooking, are you using that for the kingdom? If you are good at serving on committees, are you using that for the kingdom? If you are good at landscaping are you using that for the kingdom? In other words, when you look at the baby this Christmas, consider what sort of LIFE change it requires of you to follow Him in the coming year.
The way to be happy forever is to have Christ born in your heart, by His Holy Spirit. This is the message of Christmas. Christmas is not just a message that ‘Jesus was born in a stable.’ Christmas is a message that God in Christ by His Spirit can be born in you. He can change your life so that you are born from above, born again, experience the new birth. This is the work of the Spirit; it is the gift of God, not earned by you, for which you can only ask, and which God promises He will give to all those who genuinely repent. The great Church of England minister, John Stott once wrote:
We know that to find God and to accept Jesus Christ would be a very inconvenient experience. It would involve the rethinking of our whole outlook on life and the readjustment of our whole manner of life. And it is a combination of intellectual and moral cowardice which makes us hesitate. We do not find because we do not seek. We do not seek because we do not want to find, and we know that the way to be certain of not finding is not to seek.
So often we do not have the experience of Christ that we could have—and in fact do not find Christ at all—because deep down we really wish to avoid Him. ‘We do not seek because we do not want to find, and we know that the way to be certain of not finding is not to seek.’ Would you instead this Christmas seek the new life that can only come through faith in the baby born at Christmas, the Savior? Jesus Himself put this condition very simply:
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:5).
It is the essential precondition of new life—the new birth by the Spirit. Ask Him for that new birth, seek Him, trust Him, put your faith in Him. Faith, not a notional mental assent, but a submission to His way and His will, to let God be God in your life. As Jesus famously put it later in that same chapter of John’s gospel:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
It is worth specially emphasizing this essential nature of the new birth—or regeneration—because in recent years its emphasis has often been replaced by a tendency to equate the language of being ‘born again’ with a political or cultural affiliation. But when Jesus uses the language of being born again, He is not referring to our political party, or our view on various cultural matters; He is referring to spiritual new birth. This emphasis on the new birth is not a new idea formulated by mid-twentieth century revivalistic preachers. It goes back to Jesus. To the gospels. To the manger itself. It has frequently been urged on by leading Christians, preachers, and indeed poets. The great Victorian poet Alfred Tennyson famously sighed,
Ah for a man to arise in me That the man I am may cease to be.
Perhaps that’s your sigh. You long to be able to put off old patterns of behavior, bad habits and unworthy thoughts. You long to be clean and pure. You long to be able to start again and have the power to be new. All this comes through the message of Christmas. More than that, it comes through the person of Christmas, the Christ of Christmas. Maybe it was never better put than in the famous carol ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’:
O holy child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel.
With a new birth comes a whole new life. It opens up in front of you now. There will be difficulties inevitably—we live in a world that is far from perfect. But whereas before you were wandering aimlessly, uncertain, now you are set on a trajectory of meaning, purpose and destiny, whereby everything is new, and one day all things will be new. You will weep, but not without meaning. You will hurt, but not without purpose. Your life is new: a new start, new day, new every moment, for a new purpose, to be a part of the new heavens and the new earth when Christ comes again to rule in power, glory and majesty.
That LIFE—Labor, Influence, Finance, Expertise—now has meaning and purpose to it. Of course, you might think that if God is Sovereign then my life must by definition be fulfilling God’s purposes. He is, after all, in control. Who am I to talk back to God? What will be will be, and I will do what He wants in the end. But here we are talking about a different kind of purpose, a purpose now of joy and meaning—not resistance and rebellion and ultimate final misery. The famous Oxford Professor C. S. Lewis put it like this:
A merciful man aims at his neighbor’s good and so does ‘God’s will’, consciously co-operating with ‘the simple good’. A cruel man oppresses his neighbor, and so does simple evil. But in doing such evil, he is used by God, without his own knowledge or consent, to produce the complex good—so that the first man serves God as a son, and the second as a tool. For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.
Now, in Christ and because of Christ—and Christmas—you can serve like John, like who you were made to be, in fullness of life and in fulfilment of your destiny and true desires. We are never freer than when we submit. The real slave is the one who rebels against their Designer’s purpose and against the Designer Himself. But once you align yourself to His will and His goals for your life, then your purpose becomes His purpose, and you have a growing sense that ‘you were made for this’ (for you were).
That’s my desire for you, that you would find this Christmas season such a renewed joy and peace, that your experience of Christmas goes beyond the merely temporary and passing. And it becomes a fulfilling life for you, your family, your children, your friends and eternity.
That’s how Christmas can make you happy forever: Radical Repentance, New Birth, New Life.
Taken from How Christmas Can Change Your Life, by Josh Moody.
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