That much of the world no longer has a clue as to the real meaning of Christmas goes without saying. And each passing year it tends to get worse – at least in the West. As but one quick example, in today’s Melbourne Age there were two opinion pieces by atheists telling us we don’t need Jesus to enjoy Christmas! See my thoughts about this here: billmuehlenberg.com/2010/12/20/why-does-the-age-hate-christianity/
But what I wish to discuss here concerns a news item which appeared recently in the press. The headline read as follows: “Cosmetic surgery booms as Christmas nears”. Here are the first few paragraphs of this rather disturbing article:
“Breast implants, facelifts and other cosmetic procedures are booming in the lead-up to Christmas. Peter Callan, president of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, said there was a spike in all cosmetic surgery procedures as the holiday season approached. Breast augmentation, fillers and anti-wrinkle treatments were the most in demand.
“‘Christmas is an artificial deadline for many people – they want to get things done by then,’ he said. ‘Cosmetic surgery and cosmetic enhancements are no exception to the rule.’ Most women seeking breast augmentation were in their 20s and 30s, while those after botox and wrinkle fillers were generally in their 30s and 40s, Mr Callan said.
“Anoop Rastogi, a cosmetic surgeon specialising in breast implants, agreed that there was an ‘explosion’ at this time of year. Many women having breast augmentation timed the surgery so they could be ready for Christmas and the summer holidays. ‘It starts in September, October and ends in February,’ he said.
“‘The number of breast augmentations that I do at that time is twice what I do for the rest of the year combined’. Bryan Mendelson, a Toorak-based cosmetic surgeon, said rhinoplasty was also popular as school leavers prepared for university. ‘There’s a group of students finishing VCE who want to get their noses fixed,’ he said.
“‘For rhinoplasty surgeons, it’s one of the busy times.’ Despite the seasonal demand, however, surgeons warn that such procedures should never be given as Christmas gifts.”
I dare say that for most of the past two thousand years, cosmetic surgery was not the first thing that sprung to mind when discussions about Christmas arose. But we live in changing times, and the old message of Christmas has long ago been abandoned.
So instead of the good news about a Saviour born who offers real life-changing transformations to those who receive him, we instead have an unhealthy fixation on all things external, and on getting ‘the look’. Never mind that the transformation we all really need is an internal one.
The Christmas message is in fact about the ultimate personal makeover. It is a radically different and far more important makeover than cosmetic surgery. Jesus Christ is the greatest makeover artist, and he does more than perform mere cosmetic and superficial changes – he radically transforms us from within.
That is the story of Christmas: unto us a Saviour was born. That is good news, because we are all in desperate need of saving. We are all bound and lost in sin and selfishness. No amount of boob jobs or Botox treatments will ever cover up our really ugly interiors.
We need an inner makeover which we cannot ourselves even begin to attempt. The work has to be so deep and so thorough that none of us can perform self-surgery here. We need the divine doctor to perform radical open-heart surgery.
Our hearts, which are like stone, are in desperate need of a transplant. The good news of the gospel is that this is the very thing God promises to do on our behalf if we will let him. As we read in Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh”.
That is why Jesus told us that we must be born again. Such major heart surgery is radical stuff, and there is no way a bit of self-improvement on our part will deal with the crisis we face. Indeed, we are told that we are dead in our trespasses and sins.
Now a dead person does not need therapy, renovation, or a mere makeover. He needs resurrection. And only Jesus Christ can offer us this. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).
And he also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). The good news of Christmas is a Saviour has been born who lived and died, and rose again, so that we can have the ultimate makeover, one which will be good for all of eternity.
At the end of the day, all those breast enhancements will just not cut it. No matter how much Botox you pump into your face, you still will eventually get old, wrinkly, and lose ‘the look’. When you are on your death bed, you won’t really give a rip about how pert your tummy is or how cute your nose is.
The only makeover that will last is the one that transforms our souls and makes us right with our Maker. That is why the first Christmas took place. Jesus came to perform the world’s most important makeover. We had all better avail ourselves of it.
It is the only radical surgery worth having. And its impact will last forever. Merry Christmas.