Bring Back the True Meaning of Christmas

    Bring Back the True Meaning of Christmas

    Asia Area Leader Message

    Elder Ming-Shun Kuan Of the Seventy

    Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. By learning of Him and obeying the commandments, all mankind can have eternal life with the grace of God and Jesus’ redeeming sacrifice. Both the prophets and the scripture have testified of this truth. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”[1] Eternal life is the greatest gift of all and the ultimate purpose of our coming to earth and participating in the Plan of Salvation.

    During His earthly life, the Savior taught us to love God, to love others as ourselves, and to serve others. He has taught by words and by actions, and has shown us the right way to return to our Father in Heaven. And because of Him, we are “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.”[2]

    stone

    Nevertheless, even as the Savior of the world, he was rejected and despised by the people. He came among His own people, but they did not receive Him. They refused to accept the gospel truths of Heavenly Father as Jesus taught. At the end, people chose to release a murderous criminal but crucified the Savior who was innocent and unblemished. And yet Jesus completed the most important mission in His life and redeemed all mankind, so whosoever is willing to exercise faith and obey His teachings can return to Heavenly Father through the mighty power of Atonement. We are forever grateful to this unparalleled gift. As we celebrate the Savior’s birth every year, we should, at the same time, take the opportunity to examine ourselves, to practice His teachings, and to magnify the discipleship of Jesus Christ.

    In today’s societies, especially in places where Christianity is not the mainstream, Christmas has become a fancily packaged commercial holiday as a result of people’s lack of in-depth understanding of its true meaning. Thus its celebrations tend to be shallow and superficial. Merchants eagerly use Christmas as an opportunity to sell more goods to push sales to a higher level than their competitors. Young people see it as an opportunity to hold wild parties to indulge themselves. All the hustle and bustle has taken the center stage of this holiday, and sadly, the original meaning of Christmas and the commemorating the birth of our Savior have been overlooked and lost. As Latter-day Saints and true disciples of Jesus Christ, we have the unshirkable responsibility to manifest the true doctrine of Jesus Christ’s teaching by our actions and examples, especially on this significant day. Through the efforts of each Latter-day Saint, we can bring back the true spirit of Christmas.

    true spirit of Christmas

    Jesus Christ taught us to love God and to love our neighbors. When we serve others, as selflessly and humbly as we would serve God, we are glorifying His name. The Savior expounded on this principle. “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”[3]

    Jesus thee thee thee thee it it

    In the past, such charitable acts of service can be seen everywhere in Taiwan. On any given day, you could find pots of drinking water or tea politely labeled “奉茶” (Tea Serving) set up on street corners. They were voluntarily offered by kind and thoughtful people for any thirsty passers-by to drink. It was just like what the scripture says, “thirsty, and gave thee drink.” [4] Old-fashioned kind deeds such as this may not be suitable anymore and are rare to be found in the modern societies. However, that spirit of charity is something we can all emulate. If we put our hearts to it, we can always sense or see the needs of those around us. When prompted by the Spirit, we can offer help at the time of need. Such service may include giving our time and talents, providing substantial help instead of giving lip service, and solving others’ problems. It could be offered by an understanding heart to listen, to praise, or to comfort.

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    To put Savior’s teaching into practice and to render Christ-like service, we should first prepare ourselves, not just around the Christmas season, but every day in our lives. Our morning and evening prayers can help us commit to following Christ’s example and seeking His help. Studying the gospel and the scriptures can help us understand God’s will and gain spiritual nourishment through the words of God. The weekly worship gives us opportunities to return to the Lord’s house and partake of the sacrament, to remember Jesus Christ, and to renew the sacred covenants we have made with Him, and in the meantime, to receive strength and grace to advance on the Lord’s path. We should practice these things daily, so “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”[5]

    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”[6] We have been given one of the most precious gifts by our Heavenly Father, which is the Savior Jesus Christ! As we gratefully celebrate His birth, let us signify and glorify the divine meaning of this special day with actions that fit our identity as Christians.  ■

    Caption: Elder Ming-Shun Kuan


    [1] John 17:3

    [2] Ephesians 2:19-21

    [3] Matthew 25:37-40

    [4] See Matthew 25:37

    [5] 2 Timothy 3:17

    [6] John 3:16