Okay, I realize that as I begin this post, it has the potential to bring out deep feelings from people and the responses that may follow. I have no “agenda’, but this is to get you thinking about why we do the things we do and how it may, or may not, glorify God.
Each year at this time, there seems to be an outcry to keep “Christ” in “Christmas”. My question for you to ponder is why should this be such a big battle cry?
The Bible does not give us a date when Jesus was born, though we do have some “signs” to help us see when Christ was born. For instance, shepherds in the field, we can look at history and see when the census was held, etc. but the Bible itself does not gives us the date, nor does Jesus (or anyone else) encourage us to remember the day He was born. Jesus does however tell us to remember His death and resurrection. Remember that even though His birth is miraculous and an important part of fulfilling prophecy and Jesus being the sacrifice for our sins, it means nothing without His death and resurrection.
Christmas has a lot of “peripheral” items added to it that have nothing to do with the nativity. Things like the Christmas tree, Santa, elves, reindeer, snow, etc. and many secular institutions/governments correlate all of these to Christmas. I do not see anywhere in Scripture that talks of lights at Christmas time except for the single bright star that appeared that helped guide the wise men. The outcry began when retailers began to call Christmas Trees “X-mas” trees. So again, I ask, what does a decorated pine tree have to do with the birth of Christ. Why does this cause such an outcry? Yes the tree can be used to symbolize many things about God, the birth, etc, but then I can take almost any object and do that as well, as did Jesus in His parables. Does that make those items things of “Christmas”? Of course not!
Christmas is a tradition and a cultural holiday today. We cry out to remember the “reason for the season” but then we decorate our homes with lights and evergreens and the manger scene sits “at the feet” of the tree or other “non-prominent” space. When someone visits your home, do they see Jesus, or do they see the lights, the trim and the decorations of the holiday. If Jesus is the real reason for the season, then why do so many “non-believers” celebrate the day?
Do you dream of a “White Christmas”? Or the sound of sleigh bells? While at the same time reminding others of the reason for the season? Do you think about the reason for the season as you stand in lines or struggle to find that perfect gift for someone? How about as you stress about cleaning your home for the people who visit this time of year?
How would you feel if you did not receive a gift on Christmas morning? Really, how would you feel? It wouldn’t be Christmas would it. That is why so many charities seek to give children toys and assist families this time of year. Why depression and suicides increase, because eventhough we cry out that Jesus is the reason for the season, we teach our children that it is really about materialism as we seek to shower them with gifts and struggle if we cannot and it just isn’t Christmas without a gift or a tree. So that must be the reason for the season, right?
Christmas, while we remember Jesus’ birth, really is not about Christ, is it? It is about giving and receiving gifts. And when we cannot give, or do not receive gifts, it just isn’t Christmas, eventhough we claim to be celebrating the birth of Jesus, God’s Son. The greatest gift that has been given is from God, when He sent His only Son to earth to die as a substitute for the punishment we deserve as a result of our disobedience, yet that doesn’t seem to be enough for us at Christmas.
Yes, I enjoy the lights, the trimmings of the holiday, the gifts and all that is associated with this holiday season and I do what I can to make sure that the birth of Jesus is emphasized in the activities, but it does not bother me if someone says “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas. If you cry out to keep Christ in Christmas and to remember the reason for the season, think about what people see in your life during this time. Do they see your emphasis on the decorations and gift giving/receiving, or do they truly see Christ in your life? I hope that in my life they see Jesus.
Yes, we need to share Christ with others who are dying without knowing Him, but what do they see when they see us proclaiming loudly with our voices to keep “Christ” in Christmas and then they see our actions as we “fight” for the deals on Black Friday, stand in line at the stores, stress over gift giving, spend hours decorating, trying to find just the right tree and dreaming of that white Christmas? None of which have anything to do with the birth of Christ. Do they see us as “different”? changed by the power of the Holy Spirit?, or are we just celebrating the cultural holiday like everyone else?
Yes, celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas day and share His gift of salvation with others, but think about the message you are sending about the real “reason for the season” by the things that you do this holiday season.