In Minneapolis today it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. What we mean is that the first snow of the season is falling (in a big way — they tell us to expect nearly a foot!), turning our landscape into a Christmas romance, something you might see in a Currier and Ives lithograph.
There’s nothing wrong with a little aesthetic, nostalgic Christmas romance. God made us sentimental beings to increase our enjoyment of and gratitude for his many past graces. But if the romance and nostalgia become the substance, the pursuit of our Christmas celebrations, then they become deceptive — mirages of joy that disappear as soon as we reach for their illusive promise.
And that is what Christmas has become for so many: a joy mirage, or perhaps a joy fantasy. This can be true even for Christians. When we look for joy in our traditions rather than through our traditions, joy short-circuits. Looking for joy in the Christmas trappings and traditions is like opening a beautifully wrapped package with a tag that reads “Joy Inside,” only to find the box empty. That’s because our Christmas traditions don’t so much house joy as much as they point to joy. If we want our joy voids filled, we must look less at Christmas and more through Christmas to where indestructible, unspeakable joy really is.
For so many, Christmas has become a joy mirage.
For in “the fullness of time . . . God sent forth his Son” (Galatians 4:4), in whom “the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19), in order that we who are full of condemning sin might be fully emptied of our sin and “filled up with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18–19) and experience the “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11; John 15:11).
Christmas is for you to know Christ, to know the love of Christ, and be filled up with the fullness of the joyful God.
And to help you look through Christmas in order to be satisfied with true, everlasting joy is why we’ve created a new Advent devotional titled, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy. It has daily devotional meditations written by John Piper for each day from December 1 through 25, with an extra Christmas sermon thrown in. The daily readings are short (most 1.5–2 pages), making them wonderful to use for private or family worship. And they are powerful, packed full with the gospel glory of the precious and very great promises that are yours in Christ — all of which are designed to fuel your joy. This devotional (like last year’s Good News of Great Joy) is available free by PDF, or you may purchase the paperback, Kindle, or audio versions.
Things looking a lot like Christmas, if they don’t help us see and savor Jesus Christ, will really do very little for us and will leave us empty. We want to be full of joy and for our joy to be indestructible. So receive this word from Pastor John, which expresses how he hopes you will benefit from this devotional:
Give yourself time and quietness in this Advent season and seek this experience. Pray for yourself the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 3:14–19 — “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” — that you may have power “to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”
That is my prayer for you this Christmas — that you would experience the fullness of Christ; that you would know in your heart the outpouring of grace upon grace; that the glory of the only Son from the Father would shine into your heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ; that you would be amazed that Christ can be so real to you.