You and your family are under attack. You probably won’t feel the siege—it’s subtle, seductive, and attractive—and that’s why this attack is infinitely more dangerous.
What in the world am I talking about?
Look at the calendar. The Advent season commences in just a few days. It should be a glorious time of remembering God’s response to his lost and rebellious image-bearers. That response wasn’t to condemn but to give the ultimate gift of grace: the gift of himself.
But instead of a peaceful season of worship and celebration, Advent has devolved into a spiritual war.
A False Christmas Story
The “Christmas Story” which the surrounding culture celebrates puts us at the center, the place for God and God alone. It looks to creation for fulfillment rather than worship of the Creator. It makes physical pleasure our primary need rather than the rescuing intervention of the Redeemer. It’s dominated by the comforts of the moment rather than eternal priorities.
In every way, the story you will hear over and over again during this season is dangerously wrong when it comes to who we are and what we need. It encourages us to find comfort where comfort can’t be found and to place our hope in things that will never deliver.
To be clear, I have no problem with beautiful decorations, family feasting, or giving gifts. The Christmas season can be a time when families gather again, renew relationships, and express love for one another.
But I’m concerned that we’re listening to a false Christmas story instead of remembering the true Advent narrative—a story that defines our beliefs about who we are, what we need, and what our lives are about.
The True Advent Narrative
Unlike that false Christmas story, the true Advent narrative is humbling and unattractive. It’s a sad story about a world terribly broken by sin, populated by self-centered rebels who are willing participants in their own destruction. It’s about beings created to live for God who in every way live for themselves.
This story is about the dethroning of the Creator and the enthroning of his creation. It’s about conditions so desperate that God did the unthinkable, sending his Son to be the sacrificial Lamb of redemption. And why did Jesus come? Because we were so lost, so enslaved, and so self-deceived that there was simply no other way.
Until we hear and understand the bad news, the good news won’t be attractive to us. The news that Jesus came on a glorious mission of grace to live, die, and rise in our place is only worth celebrating when you understand it’s our only hope.
Fight For Your Heart
The war for Advent isn’t about whether we should sing silly seasonal tunes versus gospel carols, or have worship times versus big family feasts. You can do both. Rather, this war is about what story of identity, need, meaning, and purpose we will believe and give our hearts to pursue.
Life really is a battle of stories, and the battle rages most fiercely when the true story is meant to be told most loudly.
So enjoy the gifts, the decorations, and the delicacies, but start defending your heart and your family by telling the true Advent narrative.
Before you begin to get distracted by all the traditions of holiday fun, take up the battle for your soul.
Paul David Tripp
Advent Action Steps
Instead of Reflection Questions today, I want to provide you with 4 action steps to help you focus on the true Advent narrative:
- Start Early. Don’t wait until Christmas Day. You can’t start early enough or tell the true narrative often enough since the false story is everywhere to be heard.
- Don’t Ignore The Bad News. Good news isn’t good unless it’s prefaced with bad news, and redemption becomes beautiful when we understand the depth of our need.
- Find The Flaws. Enjoy the traditions, make new memories, and have a good time, but take opportunities to point out how and why the false Christmas story you will hear again and again isn’t true.
- Celebrate Jesus As The Gift. Express love by giving gifts and enjoy receiving items on your own wish list, but remind yourself and others that creation can’t satisfy us and that our only hope is found in one Gift—the person, presence, work, and grace of Jesus.