Christmas is over. More than a few tiny tots threw tantrums when Santa brought a PlayStation 2 instead of an Xbox 360. Countless adults were chagrinned to receive a fondue set from that crazy aunt in Poughkeepsie . The customer service desks at Stuff-Mart™ are jammed with snarling Christians, pushing and shoving for a chance to convert unwanted Christmas gifts into cold, hard cash.
I’ve received some wonderful Christmas gifts in my life—many of the ones I’ve treasured have been hand-made by my children and filled with love. But the half-life of most of the Christmas dreck we give each other is distressingly short. This year’s must-have items are next year’s white elephant gifts.
(And while I’m at it, isn’t it ironic that China, a nation officially hostile towards Christianity, is the primary manufacturing site for Christmas, Inc.™ ?)
So… what has real value? What lasts?
“I appointed you to go and produce fruit that will last…” —John 15:16, NLT (Jesus speaking to his disciples at the Last Supper)
Produce fruit that will last. Here is what Cardinal Ratzinger had to say about that phrase shortly before he was elected Pope Benedict XVI:
“Everyone wants to leave a trace behind. But what remains? Money, no. Even buildings do not remain: nor do books. After a certain amount of time, more or less long, all these things disappear. All that rests, that rests eternally, is the human soul, man created by God for eternity. The fruit that remains is therefore that which we have sown in the soul of men—love, knowledge, the gesture that can touch hearts, the word that opens the soul to the joy of the Lord.”
Our labors should be aimed at things that last, Jesus said. Our hearts should clamor for gifts that are eternal, not material.
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your hear and thoughts will also be. —Matthew 6:19-21, NLT (Jesus speaking)
The Chinese factories are already tooling up for Christmas 2006™. Madison Avenue is already planning campaigns to create a hunger for the next big thing. Little Johnny is already bored with his Xbox 360.
If it feels like you’re stuck in a rat race, perhaps it’s because you’re stuck in a rat race.
What has real value? What lasts?
Where are you storing up your treasures?
That is an interesting point, about the Chinese economy profiting from our religious observance.
It’s tough to find anything these days, which is not made in China. I cheer when I find U.S. made products.
When Jesus speaks about “fruit that will last” or “treasures in heaven” he is speaking metaphorically. Agreed? I sometimes wonder how that translates into my life in a tangible way. What will I do in the next hour, or the rest of this day, or in the next week/month/year that will “produce fruit” or “store treasures in heaven”?
What cracks me up is that fondue sets are back in style again! They were a really messy waste of time 25 years ago, and I’ll bet that hasn’t changed. 🙂 Like Solomon said, nothing new under the sun. Thanks for the reminder about what has real value. It’s a great perspective to have in beginning the new year.
Your article inspires me to comment on what the Lord has shown me this year..
Our 25 year old son only had one request this year – a winch for his jeep. You heard it right and we considered it carefully before making the purchase. Our decision was based on the natural love we have for our son – accompanied by our great desire for all our children to see Gods love through us. After tearing open the paper and squealing like a kid he said “I feel like a twelve year old!” Which made me wonder what did we give him when he was twelve – but thats another story. We also gave him a hat I made him with wool from Ireland (makes it special to him). I prayed for him as I crocheted it (that he would always get out of the woods with his jeep and him intact and more importantly that he would always feel the love of God and his Mom and Dad when he wears it).
Our 24 year old son had expressed a desire some time ago for a GPS. He does quite a bit of hiking in our wonderful Adirondacks alone. This time in the mountains brings him close to God through the beauty of His creation and the solitude. We love that and want to encourage it by helping to assure he gets back to where he started. 🙂
Our 41 year old daughter who in spite of an ongoing battle with alcoholism and anxiety disorder has trusted God to help her finally realize a dream of becoming an RN. As her personal battle rages she has pressed on with the grace of God making it possible for her to not only go to classes and care for her household (including 3 teenage boys) but for all four semesters so far has averaged B+ – A grades.
I made her a prayer shawl knowing that the Lord is faithful to complete the good work He has begun in her.
Most other gifts were handmade as well – salsa from my own tomatoes, apple butter, cookies, cards made with the pictures our mountain climber emails me after each trip, balsam and lavendar sachets etc.
Christmas this year, by Gods grace, was everything I could have ever hoped for. The love of God was evident, the peace of God blanketed us and we have an afterglow that I suspect is due to hearing and following His leading.
We live in the natural world but if all that is natural in our lives is infused with and used to give glory to Him who gave the greatest gift we will bless and be blessed.
We have the ability to focus on Jesus and resist the call of the enemy to become engaged in a culture gone mad with greed and instant gratification.
I pray during the next year my ear will be even more finely tuned in to the sound of His voice and tuned out to the “world”.
May the God of peace bless you all.
What is friut that lasts? Hmmmmm…Everything done by Gods strength..not our own? If we do lots of good deeds…in our own strength..will it stand the test..or will it be hay and stubble?
I believe Jesus just wants US…to be his hands and feet..we don’t need to understand what he is doing..just stay in sync..in perfect harmony with him..is the only thing we have to offer that is lasting fruit…He knows what needs to be done on this earth..he knows what he wants to accomplish..so why not just stay in sync with him..and let him do all things thru us..simple..is it? How can we be so in sync with him..that we hear a voice saying turn left..turn right…how? By spending quantity..and quality time with him..we should spend more or equal time with him..as we do with our significant other.