During 2016, Americans spent $658 billion dollars in retail stores and the numbers are expected to grow in the coming years. Our culture is so focused on money: spending money, managing money, making money, and saving money. There is a bank (sometimes two) on every corner and advertisements on billboards claim low interest rates or debt consolidation while the next billboard down promises a “great deal” on whatever the newest, coolest gadget is.
As a culture, we are so wrapped up in money and consumerism.
How do we step back from the material world and spend less this Christmas season? How do we get back to what Christmas is really about? We could remember Jesus’ birth and how He entered the world in stable surrounded by animals and shepherds (not wealth or material goods) or we could talk about how Mary and Joesph were turned away from inns and had to make do with what they had. These are good things to think about and remember, but maybe there’s more to spending less at Christmas than just thinking about how Jesus entered the world modestly and without material possessions.
Maybe the reason we as a culture have become so wrapped up in buying stuff or worrying about money is because we are trying to fill a hole in our lives. A void on the edge of our perception that makes us feel incomplete and scared. We think to ourselves “maybe if I had this or did this, I wouldn’t feel empty inside.” But even with our material things and our life accomplishments, we still long for something more.
This longing is why Jesus was born. That void, that desire to spend money and buy stuff is a result of us being separated from the one being who can make us complete—God. Christmas is a time to celebrate Jesus’ birth, but it is also a time to celebrate the reason why Jesus was born. He came to earth for the sole purpose of saving us. He laid His life down so that we could live—so that we could one day spend eternity with God in heaven.
In our devotional today, we studied Colossians 2:9-10:
“For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So, you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”
“For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.” Without Christ, we’re not full, not complete. All that stuff we buy or strive for means nothing if we don’t have Christ. He is the connection between us and God.
Jesus fills the void in our hearts. If we take our focus off Him than we turn to the world to try and find completeness. Stress, worry, fear, anxiety are all things that take our focus off Jesus. During the holiday season our stress level goes up as we try to stay within our budget (do we ever?) but make sure everyone has a present, a party invite, or a perfect Christmas experience.
This isn’t the way God intended us to live. He wants us to find our completeness in Him. He sent Jesus to earth to make that happen. Money won’t complete us, stuff won’t complete us, and even other people won’t complete us.
This Christmas season, remember that the “perfect” present or “wonderful” party won’t complete you, your family, or your friends. Only Jesus will. If we keep our focus on Jesus, then we don’t have to fill a void with our purchases and spending less will come more naturally. Remember, “So you are also complete through your union with Christ.”