Don't lose Jesus at Christmas, well-known evangelist Greg Laurie told Christians.
"For many ... we don't have time for the baby Jesus. We're too busy 'celebrating Christmas,'" Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in southern California, said in a sermon Sunday.
In the midst of finding good deals at retail stores, holiday parties, and other activities that come with the Christmas season, it's easy to lose sight of God and turn Christmas into "Seasons Greetings," Laurie noted.
While people outside the church may be "hijacking" Christmas and turning it into "Winter Solstice" or simply a holiday, believers in the pews are also forgetting what Christmas is all about.
"You can be in the church, attending every Sunday and still lose sight of Jesus," Laurie pointed out.
"We get so busy ... with spiritual things. We can be so busy working for God, we miss God."
At the same time, the first things believers seem to cut out from their daily activities when pressed for time is studying the Word of God, praying, or even church, Laurie noted.
"Being a Christian is not rocket science," the evangelist said. "There are certain disciplines we need to have to grow spiritually" (i.e. regular Bible study and prayer).
"You don't get beyond that," he stressed.
Though Christians and others may have lost Jesus, Laurie proclaimed the good news that "God never loses sight of us."
"The message of Christmas is God is with us," he said. "You're the one who was lost, not God. And Jesus said he has come to seek and save that which is lost.
"Let's not lose Jesus at Christmas."
That same night, evangelist Franklin Graham visited the southern California megachurch to collect thousands of shoe boxes for the annual Operation Christmas Child project.
Every year, Samaritan's Purse – which Graham heads – partners with churches throughout the country in gathering shoe boxes that congregants have filled with gifts and necessities. This year, Samaritan's Purse is collecting 8.2 million shoe boxes which will be distributed to children in more than 130 countries.
Along with the gifts, children are also presented with the Gospel message.
Graham recalled a past interview with a secular reporter who was offended that the organization was "forcing" religion on the children through the Christmas gifts. But the renowned evangelist said they have no apologies for what they are doing.
"It's Operation Christmas Child," Graham underscored. "It's a Christmas program. This is Jesus' birthday and we're celebrating his birth.
"Every gift we give, we want the child to know about the Lord Jesus Christ."