The real message and meaning of Christmas is story about materialism. It is the story of how the God of the universe who is Spirit, but who created everything material that exists, entered into the world which He created in the person of His Son. It’s the story of how God became man in order to save sinful human beings. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
In reality, the most important aspect of Christmas is the material one, the fact that Jesus Christ took on flesh and blood in order to become our substitute. Only as a real human being could Jesus take our place in living a life of holiness in perfect obedience to His Father’s will. This is the life that God’s righteousness demands of us, but that we can never live because of our sinful human nature. Because of our sin, we are under the condemnation of the Law. We deserve to die eternally. But Jesus took our place. “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)
Because Jesus lived His life perfectly in our place, he was able to offer His life as the sacrifice for our sins by dying on the cross. He was only able to do this because He had a material body, because He was fully human, even though He was also fully divine. This is the miracle of the Incarnation that we celebrate at Christmas.
However, since the beginning of Christianity, there have been false prophets who have sought to deny that Jesus was fully human.“Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” (2 John 7) So there is a form of “anti-materialism” that can steal Christmas by denying that Jesus came into the world as both true God and true man. If Jesus wasn’t fully human He could not take our place. He could not be our substitute. He could not die and rise again for us. And that lie can also rob us of eternity.
So do not forget the truth that Christmas really is about something material. It is all about God becoming a man. It’s all about the Incarnation. Without the material gift of God’s Son, we would not have anything to celebrate at Christmas. That’s exactly the reason why we give material gifts at Christmas, to commemorate the gift of God’s own Son. It is appropriate that we give material gifts to those we love, because God, out of love for us, gave us a material gift of His own, Jesus Christ our Savior. But even as we buy and wrap and exchange material gifts at Christmas time, let’s make sure that our focus always remains on Jesus, the greatest material gift of all.