Interestingly, secular movies and songs about Christmas often stress that the purpose of the holiday is something more than a celebration of materialism. The true meaning of Christmas, they say, is love. Or brotherhood. Or the value of life. Or giving. Or, as the Grinch explained in somewhat vague terms, “a little bit more.” More than anything, though, Christmas is apparently about “believing.”

Believing in what, exactly? Santa? Magic? A white Christmas? The inner goodness of humanity? According to “The Polar Express,” it doesn’t really matter what you believe. Just believe something. That’s “the thing about trains; it doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.”

Few things speak to the importance of the gospel more clearly than the gaping hole that Jesus leaves behind when He’s removed from any aspect of life. Christmas is a perfect example. The world recognizes something eternally significant about the idea¬†of Christmas. Something happened and is happening in the world, and it’s worth celebrating. There’s something that we can believe in. But when Jesus is removed, all that’s left is the disconnected concept of belief in something good.

Seeing the world’s confusion makes me all the more thankful that I know the one thing truly worth celebrating and that it’s so much greater than anything that the world can dream up. “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal 4:4).