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The Purpose of Christmas

The Purpose of Christmas

3.5 66
by Rick Warren

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Hailed by The Economist as the “the most influential pastor in America,” and by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, the bestselling author of The Purpose Driven Life expounds on the profound origins of Christmas, describing it as an opportune time to welcome peace into our lives.

In his powerful yet


Hailed by The Economist as the “the most influential pastor in America,” and by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, the bestselling author of The Purpose Driven Life expounds on the profound origins of Christmas, describing it as an opportune time to welcome peace into our lives.

In his powerful yet compassionate voice, Pastor Rick Warren sounds the clarion call to “remember the reason for the season,” taking readers back in time to the most wonderful story of all—the birth of the baby Jesus. When he was just a small boy, young Rick asked his parents if they could celebrate Christmas with a birthday party for Jesus—and the tradition began that the Warrens have upheld for over fifty years. Now through stirring imagery and compelling personal insights, The Purpose of Christmas honors the significance and promise of this cherished holiday. Pastor Warren encourages readers to identify and confront what drains peace from their lives. Warren explains that the way to respond to these peace robbers is to learn how to surrender to God’s will and not feel defeated or discouraged when life does not go as planned. True peace of mind is found by having an unshakeable faith in God—knowing that His empowering Spirit will guide His children through life’s challenges.

Beautifully written, The Purpose of Christmas will stir readers to honor the true significance of Christmas and to nurture God’s gifts of love and peace in this world.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Warren (founder, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA; The Purpose Driven Life) has written a warm and fuzzy holiday book commemorating what he sees as the three purposes of Christmas: to celebrate the Christian God's love for you, to seek salvation through Jesus Christ, and to strive for reconciliation with Jesus Christ and God. This is neither a scholarly exposition on the meanings of Christmas nor a deeply theological meditation on questions of faith and divinity. The wisdom in this book does not rise above Warren's closing advice: "Hold a birthday party for Jesus this Christmas." Warren's book does well what it is supposed to do-it gives noncontroversial, unblemished, feel-good holiday cheer to the believer. There are books written to add to the intellectual and spiritual wealth of the public, and there are books written to be personal gifts given with a whole heart from one evangelical Christian to another. This is a gift book, and it's not recommended for library collections.
—Glenn Masuchika

Product Details

Howard Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt


Christmas is a party. Specifically, it's a birthday party — for Jesus — and birthdays are meant to be celebrated. It's why we say "Merry Christmas!"

Ironically, at most Christmas parties the person whose birthday we're supposed to be celebrating is completely ignored. He's never even mentioned. Although Jesus is the reason for the season, he's often overlooked or merely mentioned along with Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus, the Grinch, elves, and a long list of celebrated fictional characters.

As I was writing this little book, I decided to take a survey of Christmas shoppers. I asked, "What are you celebrating this Christmas?" Most answers had nothing to do with Jesus:

  • "I'm celebrating that I made it through another year."
  • "I'm celebrating being home with my family."
  • "I got a Christmas bonus."
  • "My son is home from Iraq."
  • "The candidate I voted for got elected."
  • "I'm celebrating that I've finished all my shopping."
  • "I'm not celebrating anything. I'm just trying to survive."
  • Preparing for Christmas can be a lot of work, especially for moms. With the pressure of buying gifts, sending greeting cards, decorating our homes, putting up lights, cooking, attending parties, and cleaning up afterward, we have little time to actually enjoy the meaning of Christmas.

    The first purpose of Christmas is celebration! We learn this from the angel's opening statement to the shepherds of Bethlehem. God had wonderful news for us that would cause us all to rejoice, celebrate, and throw a party:

    "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people."

    Luke 2:10 niv

    The good news of Christmas is worth celebrating for three reasons. It is personal: "I bring YOU." It is positive: "GOOD news of great joy." And it is universal: "for ALL the people." It doesn't matter who you are, what you've done, where you've been, or where you're headed — this news is for you.

    A national magazine used to carry a feature called "News You Can Use." I always read that section first. The angel brought us news we can use. It's the best news in the world:

    God loves you!

    God is with you!

    God is for you!

    Christmas is a time to celebrate that God loves you!

    The most famous statement in the Bible is Jesus' explanation of why God sent him to earth: "God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."

    The entire reason for Christmas is the love of God. God loves you so much that he came to earth as a human so you could get to know him and learn to trust him and love him back. Theologians call this the Incarnation. God became one of us, a human being, so we could understand what he is really like.

    God has given us, as human beings, the capacity to know him in ways animals can't. He created us in his image, which includes the ability to enjoy a personal relationship with him. Then he took the initiative to send Jesus so we could understand his love and our need for him.

    Of course, we know a little about God by simply observing his creation. For instance, by looking at nature we know that our Creator loves variety: he created an incredibly diverse universe. Think of the limitless array of plants, animals, rock formations, snowflakes, and people. No two human beings, even twins, are exactly alike. God doesn't make clones or copies. Every one of us is an original. After you were born, God broke the mold.

    By surveying natural phenomena, we also know that God is powerful and organized, and that he loves beauty. We all know that God must enjoy watching us enjoy what he's created. Otherwise, why would he give us so many ways to enjoy it? He gave us taste buds, then filled the world with incredible flavors like chocolate and cinnamon and all the other spices. He gave us eyes to perceive color and then filled the world with a rainbow of shades. He gave us sensitive ears and then filled the world with rhythms and music. Your capacity for enjoyment is evidence of God's love for you. He could have made the world tasteless, colorless, and silent. The Bible says that God "richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." He didn't have to do it, but he did, because he loves us.

    Still, until Jesus arrived, our understanding of God's love was limited. So God invaded earth! It was the greatest invasion in history, and nothing has been the same since. God could have chosen thousands of ways to communicate with us, but since he designed us, he knew the best way to communicate with us would be face-to-face.

    If God had wanted to communicate to birds, he would have become a bird. If God had wanted to communicate to cows, he would have become a cow. But God wanted to communicate to us, so he became one of us. He didn't send an angel or a prophet or a politician or an ambassador. He came himself. If you really want people to know how much you love them, you can't send a representative to communicate it. You have to say it personally. That's what God did at Christmas.

    The Bible tells us that God is love. It doesn't say God has love, but God is love. Love is the essence of God's character. It is his very nature. The reason that everything in the universe exists is because God wanted to love it. "The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made."

    Think about this. If God didn't want to love something, he would not have created it. Everything you see, and the trillions of things you can't see, was made by God for his enjoyment. He loves it all, even when we mess it up with our sin. He still has a purpose for it. Every star, every planet, every plant, every animal, every cell, and, most of all, every human being was created out of God's compassion.

    You were created as an object of God's love. He made you in order to love you! His love is the reason you're alive and breathing and reading this book. Every time your heart beats and every time you take a breath, God is saying, "I love you." You would not exist if God had not wanted you. Although there are accidental parents, there are no accidental babies. The parents may not have planned them, but God did.

    Did you know that God was thinking of you even before he made the world? In fact, it is why he created it! He designed this planet's environment with just the right characteristics so human beings could live on it. The Bible says, "God decided to give us life through the word of truth so we might be the most important of all the things he made."5 We matter to God more than anything else he has made.

    Because God's love for you is unconditional, he loves you on your bad days as much as on your good days. He loves you when you don't feel his love as much as when you do. He loves you regardless of your performance, your moods, your actions, or your thoughts. His love for you is unchanging. Everything else will change during your lifetime, but God's love for you is constant, steady, and continuous. It's the foundation for unshakable confidence.

    There is nothing you can do that will make God stop loving you. You could try, but you'd fail — because God's love for you is based on his character, not your conduct. It's based on who he is, not what you've done. The Bible says, "Christ's love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love."

    One potential problem of our annual Christmas celebrations is that many people only think of Jesus as a baby! Their conception of him is only as a helpless newborn in his mother's arms. If Jesus had never grown up to do what he did, he'd have no power to transform our lives.

    But the baby born in Bethlehem did not stay a baby. Jesus grew to manhood, modeled for us the kind of life that pleases God, taught us the truth, paid for every sin we commit by dying on a cross, then proved that he was God and could save us by coming back to life. This is the Good News. When the Romans nailed Jesus to a cross, they stretched his arms as wide as they could. With his arms wide open, Jesus was physically demonstrating, "I love you this much! I love you so much it hurts! I'd rather die than live without you!" The next time you see a picture or statue of Jesus with outstretched arms on the cross, remember, he is saying, "I love you this much!"

    The Purpose of Christmas © 2008 Rick Warren


    Meet the Author

    Rick Warren
    was born in San Jose, California, and founded (with one family) Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, in 1980. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from California Baptist University, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. Rick and his wife, Kay, live in Trabuco Canyon, California, and have three children.

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    3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
    SherlockQwilleran More than 1 year ago
    After spending most of 2008 plowing through historical autobiographies, I needed a quick Christmas read. I found it with "The Purpose of Christmas". I don't usually go for this kind of book because I don't like fattening the wallets of people who really just tell me what I already know. And certainly this is my first by Rick Warren.
    I found it a most enjoyable hour and a half. I recommend that you set aside 1 to 2 hours and then read the entire book in one sitting. Now I will loan it to a couple of family members and we will discuss it sometime over the holidays. I will then put it away and return to it next Christmas.
    Yes it is that good. It is worth the price and a book you will want to keep, not put on the garage sale next spring. Reverend Warren writes for the common man, not the theologian, bless him.
    Did I enjoy the book? Yes I did. Do I recommend it? Absolutely. Will it make me a better Christian? We live in hope. I don't live close to a bookstore so I do most of my business with B&N online. Order it now. You'll still have time to receive it and get it read before Christmas. Enjoy.
    brightmyer More than 1 year ago
    From the author who brought us The Purpose Driven Life, this holiday seasonWarren calls us to

    ¿remember the reason for the season.¿

    This little book explains the birth of Jesus and offers inspiration regarding the salvation of man through the word of God. It also gives hope for the reconciliation of past deeds or dysfunctional lifestyles.

    Although deeply religious in context, it does not delve too deep into Christian ideology. If you are caught up in the rat race that is life, this book will help to slow you down and refocus your energy on the things in life that are important.

    The Christmas Purpose is a wonderful book to share with family and friends over the upcoming holiday season.
    RoseCS More than 1 year ago
    Rick Warren does an excellent job not only of bringing out the purpose of Christmas but putting Christmas in perspective for everyone today. We get so used to the same old story that we forget how amazing it really was.
    sosieee More than 1 year ago
    I was given this book to read a few days ago. Since it's so close to Christmas this book was really inspiring. I have always celebrated Christmas but mostly for the family gatherings and presents. However, the reason for the holiday is because of our Savior, Jesus Christ's birth. I think everyone should read this book. Jesus died for every single person on this Earth so they would have a chance to get to know a loving and patient God. I think everyone gets so involved in other activities and forgets everything God does for them. This book really reminds you of just how much God loves you. I would honestly recommend this book for every single person.

    God loves you so much no matter what you do or who you are! Please invite him into your heart this Christmas season!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The is a must read for the holiday season. It's a great reminder of what Christmas is really about which I know most of us forget. This holiday I will be doing things a little differently and remembering the importance of Christmas. This book is inspiring, and enjoyable. This is why I would recommend this book to other.
    Valene59 More than 1 year ago
    This is the first book by Rick Warren that I've read since "Purpose Driven Life," and it is a great holiday read. Great reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. It's short enough to read during the busy holidays, as well.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The Purpose of Christmas is a gift book, and I do recommend it as a gift. It is an extended tract of sorts, sharing the gospel message through the Christmas story and the good news of it there of. Warren first looks at the purpose of Christmas and then, through the rest of the book, suggests that Christmas is a time for celebration,a time for reconciliation and redepmtion. Much of what he shares is good and contains solid biblical truth. He affirms strongly that salvation is "not a matter of trying, but trusting by faith. It's not a matter of proving you deserve it, but accepting it by faith, knowing you don't deserve it." "All you need to do is accept His pardon and what he's already done for you which you can not for yourself! There's nothing more to add. It's grace, which is to say jsut receiving what you did not earn nor merit or even deserve, plus nothing more. Your Christmas gift comes by grace through faith." "It's not what you do, but whom you trust in and accepting what He did for you, that gets you into heaven." These are all good teachings and the Gospel truth. The good news is here and Warren is theoligically correct. Personally, I enjoy the power of testimonials better as they are just as evangelical without all the theology.
    AngieKess More than 1 year ago
    Rick Warren continues to inspire with this perfect gift-giving book. I couldn't put it down. Each turn of the page made me that much more thankful for my Christmas traditions with my family and the real reason for the season.
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    This is a must read every year at Christmas time! More need to remember the real meaning of Christmas. This book was amazing, will be reading each year and sharing what a great book it is with others to help them remember the real meaning of Christmas.
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    PamT2u More than 1 year ago
    Rick Warren did a great job explaining the true essence of the Christmas season. The book is short and concise. Warren breaks down the three purposes of Christmas and does an excellent job of explaining why the world needs a Savior. Warren also encourages people to really celebrate Christ's birth with a birthday arty celebration for Him. I am a believer but I was still uplifted and renewed about the true meaning of a relatioship with Christ. I read the book in one sitting. I will read it again and I will also give it as a gift in future years. As a society we have lost the real meaning of Christmas. Warren is not preachy but rather matter of fact in his delivery. The book will remain a tireless favorite of mine fr years to come.
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    The first half of the book seemed like any other inspirational book, but towards the last half I was inspired by the actual applications recommended to motivate you in your life to appreciate what Christmas is really about and how to celebrate it and really enjoy the season. I plan on using some of these ideas with my family next year and create some new traditions.
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