Essential

essential

I know its entirely too early to be talking about Christmas, but its on my mind and not too long from now it will be on yours too. Christmas songs will start playing on the radio as soon as Halloween ends and mall hours will be the headline in the news as more stores stay open 24 hours and black Friday becomes black Thursday. Chaos will ensue.

The bottle of cologne in the picture is sitting on my nightstand next to my bed. It’s never been used, never been opened. You’re thinking I just got it a couple days ago, right?

Nope.

It was something I asked for last Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, it will be used. Well, eventually. You see,  I’m still making my way though the other bottle I have in the bathroom first.

That’s right, I asked for something I didn’t need. An expensive something too. The person who bought this for me probably spent somewhere between $50 and $70 on this bottle and one year later, it’s just sitting there.

Maybe it’s not as essential as I thought.

I can’t help but wonder, what could the money have gone to instead? While my bottle of cologne sits on my night stand, a luxury labeled ‘essential’, how many people out there don’t have their essentials?

How many meals could I have supplied someone with for $70?
How many clothes? How many warm blankets? How many pairs of shoes? How much clean drinking water?

Why on earth is there a $70 bottle of cologne unopened and unused sitting on my night stand when there are children starving? Have I become comfortable with the chaos that is American consumerism?

This year I’m challenging my comfort level by asking for one thing: I’m asking that whatever Christmas money was going to be spent on me for a product that would give me a momentary Christmas morning thrill only to sit on my night stand unused for the next year, go to something else.

Something worthwhile.

I want to encourage you turn your Christmas upside down this year instead of just being comfortable with consumerism. Do you even remember what you got for Christmas last year? Do you still use it? Do you remember what you got for someone else? Do they still use it?

I want to challenge you to do three things this Christmas. I want to preface that these are not my original ideas. They come from a movement started in collaboration with the International Justice Mission and several American Christian churches. I’m not sure if it’s still being done today, but you can go to the website by clicking on the picture above.

Here’s the challenge.

1.  Worship Fully-Don’t let the lies of American Consumerism get in the way of the real message of Christmas. There is only temporary happiness in gifts but eternal peace in Christ and that promise began on the night of His birth. Never forget that. Practice advent, go to services, worship.

2. Spend Less- This isn’t a call to stop giving gifts, it’s a call to be responsible. This challenge has two parts. First, don’t buy a gift that someone won’t remember or use one year from now. Second, refuse to go into debt over a gift (that means pay cash).

3. Give More- How do you spend less but give more? Our brains have been wired by culture to assume that giving and money and synonymous. When Jesus was born, God was giving us the gift of Himself.  He gave of Himself and calls us to do the same. Who can you spend more time with?

4. Love All- This is the foundation of the challenge. Christmas is the Father’s love manifested in Christ. By giving purposely instead of uselessly we are able to really love our neighbors.

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