In the Christmas song, If Every Day was like Christmas, made famous by Elvis Presley, there are these words:
I hear the bells saying Christmas is here
They ring out to tell the world that this is the season of cheer
I hear a choir singing sweetly somewhere
And a glow fills my heart of the peace with the world
As the sound of their singing fills the air
Oh why can’t everyday be like Christmas
Why can’t that feeling go on endlessly
For if everyday could be just like Christmas
What a wonderful world this would be
This song is a reminder of the longing in each of us for the peace and joy of Christmas to last more than just one day of the year. Is there a way to extend Christmas so that it could be experienced throughout a whole year, or a lifetime, or even “endlessly”? The Bible gives us insight as to how the spirit of Christmas might be enjoyed long after the tree is taken down and the lights are packed away. These have to do with Jesus’ purpose in coming to this earth (see previous article, “What has really come in the Person of Jesus Christ”).
First, it’s about submitting to Lordship. Before we can have “peace with the world,” you and I need to have peace with God, so the first way to experience an extension of the joy and peace of Christmas is to surrender to God, acknowledge our sinfulness, and receive the forgiveness and cleansing made possible by the Savior He sent to be born in Bethlehem, to die on a cross for our sins, and to be raised again. When you and I do this we are born into “a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3) and enter into God’s eternal kingdom (2 Peter 1:11). At the point of belief and submission to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you and I receive God’s promised Holy Spirit, who is a gift that truly keeps on giving. It is God the Holy Spirit who takes residence inside every believer, and gives “the fruit of Spirit (which) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, English Standard Version). So as a result of submitting to the Lord, He blesses you and me, not only at Christmastime, but always with His peace, knowing our sins are washed away, and the subsequent “inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8, NIV) because of the fact we’ve been rescued by the Savior whom God sent for the world.
Next, it’s about choosing to live. While the Bible says that death came to this world as a result of the disobedience and sin of Adam and Eve (see Romans 5:12); life, eternal and abundant, is available to each us through Jesus Christ, for “as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21, English Standard Version). We are born in death because of Adam but can be made alive with Christ through faith in Him, and as you and I abide in Him by continually choosing obedience to Him and His commands, we can experience the abundant life Jesus came to bring (see John 10:10). The challenge for God’s people today is the same as it was in Moses’ day when he commanded God’s people, “If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God…by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, they you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you” (Deuteronomy 30:16, ESV). As we receive life from Jesus Christ through faith, the Holy Spirit within us gives us the power to live the way God’s wants us to live, but you and I still have the choice of either life or death.
It’s about seeking to love. At Christmastime we come to realize that it is true that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, New International Version). So even though Christmas may be over, we don’t have to stop giving out of love for others. By choosing to love without expecting anything in return, you and I can continue the spirit of Christmas because the Spirit of Christmas is the Spirit of “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8, ESV). This was to show the Father’s love, for “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NIV). Even when Christmas is over, we can show that same love to our fellow man by giving sacrificially as Jesus came to give up His life for us.
Finally, it’s about being a light. There’s something warm and inviting about a neighborhood block all lit up with Christmas lights. Even though the lights must come down eventually, you and I can choose to shine the light of Christ to a dark world anytime. Jesus, “the light of the world” (John 8:12) told His followers, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). By living lives of holiness, righteousness, and goodness, you and I can shine the light of Jesus Christ anytime, not just around the holiday we celebrate the light who has come into the world. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, ESV).
So yes, Mr. Presley, Christmas can be experienced everyday and can go on endlessly because it’s not “a feeling,” but a choosing to allow the Sprit of Jesus Christ live and reign within you and me to affect others with His Lordship, life, love, and light.