Two Families That Are Worlds Apart
Meet Mr. and Mrs. Smith who are neighbors with Mr. and Mrs. Jones. These two families share much in common. They are next door neighbors. Their houses are quite similar. They attend the same church. Each has four children, and even these are similar in age. They have so much in common that at first glance you might wonder how two families could be so comparable.
But there is a huge difference that might not be so easily seen. That big difference is how these two families celebrate Christmas. Both attend the special service at their church; however, after the service is concluded, the difference becomes very clear. Let’s sit quietly in their homes and see how they observe Christmas as a family.
Let’s visit the home of the Smiths first. Their celebration of Christmas reflects what they see as the reason for the season. We’ll discover how they really view the Lord’s coming to this earth.
First, they tell their children that Santa is bringing their gifts to them. This jolly old Santa knows everyone (he must be omniscient); he travels to every home throughout the world at about the same time (he must be omnipresent); and he comes down the chimney even into homes that are not equipped with fireplaces (he must be omnipotent). He brings good boys and girls gifts (so your “good works” better outweigh your bad works in order to be rewarded). He eats the cookies and drinks the milk that is left (so he must be personal and real). They teach their children to tell the truth throughout the year, and then they set quite the opposite example by lying about Santa Claus.
Second, we sense a great deal of tension between Mr. and Mrs. Smith. There is much stress because of the lack of time and the crunch of finances in this home. Listening carefully, we discover tension because of the number of gifts that he wants to purchase and the lack of time and finances that she is trying to balance. More than once this discussion has erupted into anger which surely didn’t help put anyone into the “Christmas spirit.” The “peace on earth, good will toward men” does not exist in this home this Christmas. They overspent, are deeper in debt, and stressed out because of too many things crowding into their lives.
Third, on Christmas morning the Smith children awaken early, are again told that Santa has visited in the night (and are again lied to when they ask about why there are no sleigh marks outside in the snow). The Smith children rip open their gifts in less than two minutes, grab a quick bite of breakfast, and return to playing with the new toys. All day long family arrives for a huge meal; there is lots of laughter, watching football, and playing with the new toys (for all ages!) Then late at night some of the company head up to bed as the others leave to go home. Other than a quick prayer for the food, there is no mention of the Lord, no reading of the Scriptures, no time-outs during the day to worship the Lord as a family, nothing at all to give attention to the Lord in celebration of His incarnation. All day long the Smiths celebrate Christmas but leave out the One Whose birth should be observed.
Fourth, as the season of Christmas approached, everything stayed the same. There was no Christmas music in their home. Although they decorated the tree and put lights on the outside of their house, their children never heard the joyous music that should have filled their home. Instead, the favorite television programs, the typical video games, the texting of friends, the homework, and the tension from Mom and Dad remained the same as usual.
To summarize, what we discovered at the Smith’s home is what we fear describes typical homes throughout the United States. Christmas isn’t exactly just a typical day, but it nearly is! With the exception of unwrapping gifts that Santa brought, it is just another day with lots of relatives and platters of food, like at the Smiths. We have to wonder why they bother to put the lights up on the outside of their homes. There are lights outside but nothing different inside. Isn’t that very sad?
Now let’s visit the home of the Jones family. As we watch the Jones’ celebration, we discover several things about their Christmas festivities.
First, they are determined never to lie to their children. They explain the reasons that gifts are exchanged. They explain that Mom and Dad purchased these gifts with the money that they saved up because they love their children and are so thankful to the Lord for them. The gifts are special but not outlandish or so expensive that the family will be in debt for months to come. Most importantly, Mr. and Mrs. Jones are determined to be truthful in communicating the real reason for the season.
“Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man” (Colossians 3:9-10).
Second, they are determined not to let the hurriedness of the season rob them of the joy and peace that Christ can bring. While there are extra pressures because of their financial limitations, the Jones family has something that money cannot buy. They have the peace and joy of a family who knows the Lord and loves each other.
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15).
Third, they are determined to give God’s Word a very special place in their individual lives as well as together in their family festivities. It has become their tradition that the children have to work hard to get Dad to wake up, get up and out of bed. Poor Daddy! He just can’t seem to wake up on Christmas morning! Lots of giggles and tickling finally get Daddy to wake up. The family then comes downstairs and gathers around the lit Christmas tree. Dad has already selected a passage of Scripture about the birth of their Savior. While not taking a long time to read it, this is not a hurried time. Anyone in the family is welcome to pray and thank the Lord for this special day as they remember the miracle of the incarnation. Typically everyone in the Jones family takes a turn thanking the Lord for coming to this earth to be their Savior. One of the children is noted for “praying around the world,” and Dad has to clear his throat to bring this long prayer to a conclusion so that other Jones children can pray! After the gifts exchange takes place, but before the day gets too far along, each of the family takes time to read God’s Word on their own as they do each day. In their home they have the “rule” of “No Bible? No Breakfast!” Then later in the day the extended family arrives, and the fun is really great. Laughter fills the house as the family enjoys being together. Dad keeps track of the time, and at a convenient spot, he calls all his family together and has a special time reading God’s Word and making a few comments as he leads in family worship. Typically several of the aunts or uncles or cousins pray. The Word of God is honored in this home.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16a).
Fourth, the family picks on Mom because as soon as the holiday of Thanksgiving is over, she starts playing the wonderful Christmas music in their home. The teasing is good natured that “Mom is at it already again this year.” But in reality, she is starting a wonderful tradition that not only blesses her family now, she has also planted a seed in the hearts of her children that will someday bless her grandchildren. Wonderful Scriptural truth is communicated through the beautiful songs of Christmas. In the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jones, it is the sound of the season.
“Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16b).
Last, throughout their celebrations they enjoy special traditions that are unique to their family. However, something really special takes place in their hearts and home again this Christmas. With Dad’s spiritual leadership and Mom’s spiritual example, this family by the name of Jones honors the Lord throughout the day. The Lord Jesus Christ is at the center of everything they do. At the end of the day, though everyone is tired, it has been a day of sweet memories made and the Lord Jesus honored.
“And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God, and the Father by Him” (Colossians 3:17).
Yes, two neighboring families will celebrate Christmas, but their homes are really worlds apart. Which home best describes your home this Christmas?