Over the last few years, there has been a growing pressure on families during the Christmas season much more than our parents felt. Our parents felt pressure during Christmas because they wanted us to have a joyful Christmas and to bless us with gifts they couldn’t the rest of the year. They wanted us to enjoy our gifts because it brings them joy to see their children happy. Right or wrong, this was their belief and their pressure, which brings me to the pressure that our current generation feels about Christmas and our lives in general. We have different pressures during Christmas that may be harder. It’s the pressure of the Christmas experience that is lived out on the internet, specifically social media web sites.
Setting the Stage
Our culture is still a culture of excess, but today there is a different craving. We crave experience. We want this Christmas to be the best we’ve ever had. We still want presents and to give our kids presents, but we’ve taken it to the next level. Now we theme our homes for the experience we are going for: old cottage in the woods, urban loft Christmas, Christmas at the beach, all the while taking lots of pictures to post on our social media pages to show everyone else how wonderful our home is during the holidays.
We want all the stuff, in the best setting, and it cannot be boring or outdated. We will not settle for an ordinary Christmas. We must have an experience. The pressure doesn’t end there though. In fact it hasn’t even started. The real pressure begins when you log in and see what everyone else is doing for Christmas and then you ask: Why didn’t we get a real Christmas tree like them? Why didn’t we hand-make our ornaments like them? Why don’t I look like that when I put up my tree? Next year I will. And then we resolve to a have better Christmas experience for ourselves and our kids.
Christians, we are guilty of this too: Why did we only read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Matthew and not from Luke like they did? We only bought clothes for our own kids, so next year lets donate more money to charity like them so our kids will get the experience of giving back at Christmas. I only lit the Advent candles five times this year. They did one every day. I had three advent devotions but didn’t read any of them, not even the one by John Piper! The manger scene we painted wasn’t as biblical as theirs. We sang jingle bells too much. We need to sing more Christian Christmas carols. Next year we will.
This is why we have more pressure on us than our parents did: The whole world is watching. If you wanted to, you could have your entire life documented in film, photo and word. You can take videos, post pictures in multiple places, tell short updates about Christmas on Facebook and Twitter or longer versions on your blog. Now I have no problem inherently with posting pictures and giving updates through the internet. What sits uneasy with me is the way these outlets are used for self promotion. Why do we use the ability the internet gives us for information and communication for self promotion? It’s not that we are more selfish than other cultures and time periods. If they had Instagram, they would do the same thing and likely did within the context of their time and tools.
Longing for Greatness
We do this because within us there is a void that longs for greatness and because we are modernists and postmodernists, we believe that greatness is to be found within ourselves and this world. We are greatness and we need a great experience to make our greatness even better, so we use the internet to show the world how great we are and how great we do things. No need for the heavens to declare the glory of God, we have an iPhone with our camera and social media sites just waiting on us to upload and declare our own glory.
See if there is no God, then there is nothing for the heavens to declare the glory of. Its just open space. But glory needs to be declared and if I am the greatness in the world, then I need to declare my own glory and there’s never been a better time than now to do so. It’s just a click away. Any wonder then why we feel exhausted after Christmas?
What we need is our void of glory to be filled. We need to renounce our modernism and postmodernism where we live to declare our own greatness. We have to renounce our belief in our own deity and glory. There is only One who is deity in human flesh. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing. O come and let us adore Him. O come let us declare the glory of Christ. Look to the heavens and hear them scream of His glory. See union with Christ as the greatest experience anyone can know, an experience that never ends and only gets better.