Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people he favors!
-Luke 2:14, Christian Standard Bible
The glory of God is the ultimate end of redemption, and therefore Christmas. I must confess that sentence is a tough one for me to believe. I readily affirm its truthfulness, but man, it’s hard to live out.
What I’m saying is Christmas is all about God’s glory. For the sake of thoroughness, let’s define the word glory as greatness, value, or supreme worth. So Christmas—celebrating the coming of Jesus to save sinners—is meant to display the greatness/worth/supreme value of God.
I didn’t make this up. I learned it from my friend Jonathan Edwards. This year, by God’s providence, I was re-reading portions of his work The End for which God Made the World, and I saw this line:
That the glory of God is the highest and last end of the work of redemption, is confirmed by the song of the angels at Christ’s birth.
He then quotes Luke 2:14, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people he favors! If the angels are right, and I believe that they are, then the birth of Jesus the Messiah puts on display the greatness of God in his plan of redemption. Christmas is all about God’s glory. Which means that technically the reason for the season is the glory of God.
If Christmas is all about God’s glory, then Christmas is not about us. This is where it gets hard. It’s hard for me (I would guess many others as well) in these areas:
- Christmas isn’t about getting presents. Sorry 5th avenue, but having more/nicer stuff isn’t as great as God’s glory. It’s easy for me to get caught up in valuing stuff over God.
- Christmas isn’t about family. Sorry, Hallmark, but family gatherings, awesome though they may be, aren’t as great as God’s infinite worth. It’s easy for me to get caught up in family nostalgia rather than getting caught up in God’s greatness.
- Christmas isn’t about food. Sorry, Costco, but eating tons of delicious food isn’t as great as God’s unending greatness. It’s easy for me to seek satisfaction in food rather than in God’s glory.
- Christmas isn’t about religious services. Sorry, church attendance record keeper, but showing up once year to church isn’t as great as God’s supreme value. It’s easy for me to think that religious acts are more important than genuinely loving God for who he his.
Don’t get me wrong, those are all good things. But if we get amazing presents at a fabulous family gathering with a ton of our tasty favorites after attending a church service and we don’t realize that Jesus became a man to save sinners because he values his own glory above everything else, then we’ve missed the point. This is why Christmas in American culture feels so cheap. It is.
The best way to have a merry Christmas is to remember that it’s not about us, it’s about the glory of God. I’m convinced that if we took time to consider how Jesus’ birth displays the supreme greatness of God, we would have a much more meaningful Christmas celebration.
Christmas is primarily about God’s glory seen in the eternal second person of the trinity becoming human to die on the cross for our sins and rise from the dead. God is that great, and that is reason to celebrate for eternity. Take it from the angels.