Christmas has come and gone for us. Perhaps you still have some family get-togethers in the coming weeks, but the big day is over. As we reflect on all the presents, food, and family, we can, at times, be left with a feeling of emptiness. Our culture has this overblown view of Christmas that builds and builds and builds to a point that leaves us feeling empty and inevitably exhausted. Even my own kids have this sense of entitlement when it comes to presents. We as parents often are made to feel like if we do not give our children everything they want, then somehow we have failed, and Christmas is ruined. Why is this? How has something that we understand should be about remembering the birth of our savior turned into one of the most stressful times of the year? I think a large part of the reason comes from a misplaced perspective. We talk a lot about the reason for the season, and rightly so, but there is a deeper question of why. Why do we have this season? Why should we give gifts? What is the purpose of Christmas and life in general?
The Fifth Sola
Over the last few weeks, we have talked about the central thematic statements of the Reformation, the Five Solas. We talked about the importance of scripture (Sola Scriptura) as the foundation for everything we believe and do. We discussed Christ's centrality (Solus Christus) and the necessity of grace and faith (Sola Gratia, Sola Fide). The Final Sola, Sola Deo Gloria (Only God's Glory), is a summation of why the others happen. Why does Christ come down and take on flesh? There are a couple of different answers, such as that Christ came to pay for the sins of his people. This is a good and right answer, but we come back to the same question of why. The ultimate answer to the question is that Christ came so that the Lord might be glorified above all. As we dig through scripture, there is the recurring idea of God doing things for his name's sake. There are passages like Jeremiah 14:7, 14:21, and Daniel 9:19. Psalm 23:3 says, "He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." Isaiah 48:9 and 11 says, "For my name’s sake, I defer my anger; for the sake of my praise, I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off...For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another." The reason we have Christmas, the gospel, and churches is so that God might be glorified. Not because we are able to add something to him by our praise and worship, but because it is what is required of us.
A Question of Purpose
The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, "What is man's primary purpose?" It answers, "Man's primary purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever." This is the heart of this final Sola. Everything comes back to the need to glorify God. Our worship is a required tribute. He is the creator and sustainer of everything. We are utterly dependent on him for everything. When we glorify and worship him, we are merely doing what is good and right. Everything that we are to do is to be done for the glory of God. This is the context and motive behind the rest of the Solas and the reformation in general. The Reformers sought to glorify God above all else. The Pope could yell and scream all he wanted, but Luther, Calvin, and many others started to practice what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:4. We are not here to please man, but to please God. Galatians 1:10 tells us that if we are still trying to please men, then we cannot be a servant of Christ.
It can be easy to lose perspective when it comes to holidays and really any part of our lives. We have Jobs, families, dinners to cook, and bills to pay. We can get overwhelmed. After all the families have left and all the food has been eaten, and we are left with a mess, it can be easy to get down. But we need to remember why we do these things. Why should we make meals for our families? The answer is simple: so that God might be glorified. Each of us has a part to play in God's providential plan. We are his creation, created for his glory. We will find that we have the most joy when we are doing what we were created to do. So whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do so for the glory of God. Make dinner for your families, and go to work with a smile so that God might be glorified in everything we do.