What if we removed materialism? | Christmas with a Difference
“Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…”
The words of John Lennon in ‘Imagine’ have always seemed to many an impossible scenario. To actually have a world where famine, poverty, and greed non-existent. Wouldn’t it be nice?
We cannot deny that we live in a material-driven culture. I would probably go as far to say that many are material-obsessed. It’s all about the ‘latest’, whether in technology, fashion, beauty or anything else that streaks across the commercial world. We can’t escape the latest fad, and the advertising world comes into full force in the run up to Christmas (which is apparently as early as September).
But, let’s imagine we could. Just take a step outside the world of adverts, and think about Christmas without gifts. Christmas has become synonymous with ‘giving’, and in a way, there is reason for it. On the first Christmas, we received the greatest gift of all – Jesus. But today, I think it’s taken too far. There is an expectation that Christmas = presents, and for many, expensive ones. I also think that for some, Christmas can be bigger than birthdays. However it happens, it is the most expensive time of year for families – and that is a real challenge for some.
I’d love it if it became normal to give ‘time’: in helping out (mowing the lawn, odd jobs etc.), or in catching up with a friend face-to-face. Maybe there is an opportunity to spend money – but in treating others. I don’t mean to dismiss gifts entirely, as I fully appreciate that for some, that is how they show love. And actually, gifts can be a way in which we celebrate – and Christmas should be fully celebrated, for the right reasons.
Let’s just imagine for a minute what it would be like to wake up on Christmas morning with no expectation of gifts.
This is a reality for a lot of people.
Do we take presents TOO far?
Being honest, I’d quite like to experience what it would be like without ‘’Buy, Buy, Buy” being forced in my face for months, and without the expectation. I’d like to be able to surprise people with a gift – and possibly recreate that feeling of joy that was there on the first Christmas.
Because then, no one expected Jesus to come there and then. Sure, they were waiting for Him – but to the majority of the world, they were unaware of the events that took place. It was astonishment, and sheer joy when they realised who had been born.
If we gave gifts because we want to share joy, and because that’s an expression of love – would there not be a completely different feeling around this time of year? If giving was done out of love and compassion and not necessity?
Let’s give to share joy, as a way to express love.
Did John Lennon sing about something unattainable? In this life – there’s very little likelihood of that being realised, even as much as we try.
But I firmly believe that the world God designed was perfect, and eternal life in heaven is possible through belief in Jesus. The injustice and inequality that we witness on earth is not His way, but the way of mankind. God’s heart breaks for those who suffer, and those who the world turns its back on. As Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
I hope that this year, in the run up to Christmas, gift giving can perhaps become something more than a mad dash on Christmas Eve, amongst hordes of last-minute shoppers.
Instead, my prayer is that both the buying, wrapping and giving can be a blessing to both the giver and receiver, and you experience some of that first Christmas joy.
“And the world will live as one”