“Peace on earth.”
I love that message from the angels to those shepherds on the first Christmas night. It points to the ultimate reconciliation man can have with God and others. It points to the Reconciler who is the only hope for peace in this sin-torn world.
But, peace isn’t fully realized in our world yet. And, we see it every Christmas. Christmas is a wonderful time of year. But it can also be a time of stress and pain and frustration.
I’ve noticed what I suspect many others have noticed. There are a lot of complaints at Christmas. Pastors notice people complaining about small things at Christmas time more than usual. Families see the fussing and fighting at higher levels. Couples often battle more frequently.
Here are three reasons people may complain more at Christmas.
1. Stress is high at Christmas. Christmas time is busy– almost frantic. Presents have to be found, purchased and wrapped. Get-togethers abound. Meals have to be prepared. Trips are taken. We pack a lot into those last few weeks.
Stress does all kinds of damage. We already know how bad it is for our physical health. But it can also damage our emotional and spiritual health. Stressful times can keep us from time with God. It leads to shortness with others. It just hurts and harms and hinders. And the small little issues of life can seem so big with the sprinkling of a little stress.
So, before you honk angrily at other drivers or snap uncharitably at fellow shoppers or write unkindly on social media, take a deep breath. Ask God to give you patience. Choose kindness. Choose peace.
2. Expectations are high at Christmas. Tradition is neutral. It is neither good nor bad. But try telling that to someone who thinks Christmas services must be done the same way they were done 50 years ago. Humans, Christians included, struggle with change. We often respond to change poorly. Sometimes it is hard for us to even understand why it bothers us so much.
When expecting a perfect Christmas, one can be certain of disappointment. There are no perfect Christmases in an imperfect world like ours. So give yourself and others some grace this Christmas. Let the Christmas program be an imperfect different. Let the Christmas guests be as imperfect as the Christmas host. Choose kindness. Choose peace.
3. Spiritual warfare is high at Christmas. The enemy plays a dangerous game in letting the culture celebrate this season. We might ask deeper questions like, “What is this all about?” Or, “Is there something more than lights and wrappings?” Or, “What ever became of that little baby in that manger?”
Perhaps the enemy works overtime to keep Christians stressed so they can’t bother to invite a friend to the Christmas Eve service. Maybe he works harder to dampen the witness of Christians by encouraging impossible expectations of others. His strategy might involve urging Christians to be unkind lest they influence a lost world to consider Jesus. Instead of falling for that lie, choose kindness. Choose peace.
“Peace on earth.” Let’s live out that message this Christmas season. And may the Prince of Peace shine through you this year!