Walking through the department store, my pulse quickens in delight. The twinkling lights, Christmas music, the smell of cinnamon and cider, the taste of sugar cookies...I love it! But as I stroll through the store, I question, How do I make this Christmas more about Jesus and less about the cookies and presents?
At the end of chapter 5 in Hosea's prophecy to Israel, God has made it clear that until His beloved people acknowledge their guilt of walking away from Him and seek Him earnestly, He's going to let them sit in their own heap of a mess. In the onset of chapter 6, it would seem like Israel decides to turn to Him, but light-heartedly in order to get what's in it for them. Like Dennis the Menace when his parents tell him he can sit in the corner until he's sorry for shooting an aspirin down Mr. Wilson's throat with a sling shot. And just like that, suddenly Dennis is, "Sorry now." But of course, an all-knowing God sees right through fake, phony, insincerity and knows that Israel's turning back to Him is short-lived like a dew that dissipates in the morning heat. God isn't fooled and He wants nothing of the sort. Instead God says,
I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice; the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6
Steadfast love means a zeal toward God, an enduring, faithful, lasting love promise with God. God desires an intimate, authentic, consistent relationship with those He created. This is still true today. He sent Jesus to earth so all mankind could know more about who He is and have a relationship with Him because Jesus would pay the price for all our sins if we call Jesus our Lord.
God's not interested in our attendance at the Christmas Eve service. He's not interested in our money. He's not interested in being our EMT service when we're in a mess and need a quick fix. He's not interested in a once a year confession. He's interested in our loving Him and knowing Him by pursing a relationship with Him.
This is opposite of what the department stores, ready to make a buck, are interested in this year. This is contrary to our culture, caught up in traditions and materialism. This choice will not feel natural. You will feel like you're walking against the current every step of the way. But if it's what your Creator wants most for Christmas, will you do it? Will you choose to engage in relationship with Jesus?