Folks talk about the spirit of Christmas. Different people have different ideas about what the spirit of Christmas is. Many would say that the spirit of Christmas is giving. In other words, a person who enjoys giving gifts at Christmastime is a person with the spirit of Christmas. By this way of thinking, the word spirit simply means attitude, or desire. So, the spirit of Christmas is a feeling. Is that all?
The Bible uses the word spirit in a different way. In Scripture we learn that God is Spirit. The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters on the dawn of creation. The Spirit of God came upon prophets in the Old Testament and enabled them to speak the Word of God. Those same prophets promised that a time would come when God would pour out his Spirit on all his people.
Jesus made promises about the Spirit of God, too. He told his followers that after his death and resurrection he would send God’s Spirit to be with them. He warned them that the world would not receive God’s Spirit because they could not see the Spirit. The Spirit of God is invisible.
Jesus’ promise about God’s Spirit was fulfilled at Pentecost, after his death and resurrection. The Spirit of God arrived suddenly like the sound of a violent wind that filled the house where Jesus’ followers had gathered. What looked like tongues of fire rested on each of them and they were enabled to speak in ways that amazed the people in Jerusalem. The Spirit of God is powerful.
When the time drew near for Jesus to leave his disciples and return to the Father in heaven, he promised not to leave them as orphans. He told them that he would send God’s Spirit to be their Guide, leading them into all the Truth. God’s Spirit would also remind them of all that Jesus said. Jesus had been God’s personal representative in the world, but now God’s Spirit would take over. The Spirit of God is his personal Presence.
When we put all this together it tells us that God’s Spirit is his invisible, powerful, personal Presence in the world today. Christmastime is a reminder that God sent his Son Jesus to be the Savior of the world. Jesus promised to send God’s Spirit so that all who are saved by Jesus can have God’s powerful Presence in their lives. Jesus promised that God’s Spirit would live in God’s people.
For all those in the world who cannot see or receive God’s Spirit, Christmas must be about something smaller, about an attitude, a feeling. For God’s people the spirit of Christmas is about far more than our thoughts or emotions. The Spirit of Christmas is God himself, his invisible, powerful, personal indwelling Presence. May the Spirit of Christmas fill you to overflowing this year.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,
Brother Richard Foster
Grace Baptist Church, Camden AR