No! Christmas has almost nothing to do with family and friends! Let us consider the follwoing illustration:
When a person and his family are prisoners in a dark dungeon, his family cannot rescue him since they are also hostages! A hostage cannot rescue another hostage when both are trapped in the same dungeon! Only a person OUTSIDE the dungeon can come and open a path for escape, break their manacles, and abduct them to freedom. The most family camaraderie can do inside the dungeon is help make the tortures and cruelties a little easier to endure, since “misery likes company”. But they cannot change the fate of unending agonies for anyone, nor anesthetize the pain.
In a similar way, family and friends are themselves inmates in the dungeon of spiritual darkness today. Since they are jailbirds in the same camp, they cannot rescue you! Only someone from OUTSIDE this camp can bring the Word of Truth to rescue both parties! Consequently, to make celebrations foremost about family and friends (who cannot even rescue us since they themselves are prisoners) that should be reserved for the Rescuer is incompetence, ignorance, insincerity, and ingratitude. Family and friends should only be “mildly” celebrated if they have helped us come to a clearer recognition of the Word of the Rescuer!
For another context, let us read in Scripture how someone wanted to follow Jesus, but first wanted to attend to some family priority (Luke 9:59-62): “And He [Jesus] said unto another, Follow Me. But he said, ‘Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father’. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Do you see? Although these people were drawn by the Word of Truth in Jesus, they made other things a priority. Celebrating “family and friends” were their excuses not to focus completely on the Word of Life. They pretend to celebrate family and friends, but in reality they value them more than Truth and Life. To this Jesus allegedly responded, “Let the dead bury their dead”; this means “let those who are spiritually asleep and bound to errors continue to dig their own graves and entangle themselves in a web through wrong concepts and customs. But you who are dead, should resurrect to Life by walking in the Word, since I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”.
That is how we are today. As soon as “family and friends” are inserted into the Christmas celebration, they very soon become priority, consuming all focus, even occupying the space and energy that should be reserved for the Word of Rescue. Then in the end we sing a few songs, and right after the song is finished, shift our focus to some other superficial thought.
A prisoner and his family being trapped inside the dungeon, but who stubbornly give each other airs, indulge each other, and pretend to be free is like “the dead burying their dead”. In both cases the people are trapped and entangled in a web.
For this reason, Christmas is a Spiritual Festival whose value we should not diminish through a wrong attitude. Should the natural impulse arise to direct gratitude to people and even celebrate with them, then this should always be with the Word of Truth as the main focus.
We should not praise the servant and their gifts (family and friends) so much that we forget the King who sent them!
~Ikenna Q Ezealah