Do we spread a false message when we emphasize that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday?
People get caught up in the “fight” to keep Christ in Christmas and how parents are lying to their children when they teach them to believe in Santa Claus; yet the church seems to accept all of the inaccuracies taught about the Christmas story, especially that Jesus was born on December 25th.
Before you comment about the history of Christmas, I know why December 25th was selected. In fact, the local non-believers know as well and mock it. Remember the reason for the season Christians cry out, but it wasn’t originally about the birth of Jesus, but that’s another post for another time.
I had a fourth grader today blurt out that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th which caused another to question what they had been taught their entire lives, that December 25th was Jesus’ birthday, which they had also recently seen performed at a local Christian playhouse. Birthdays are important to children, and so celebrating Jesus’ birthday would be important to them as well, but how do we explain to a child why we celebrate Jesus’ birthday when we do not know when it is, and no where in Scripture do we see Jesus say “remember my birth”. As a child finds out that there is no Santa (at least not how they’ve been taught to believe), and they now learn that December 25th is not Jesus’ birthday they may wonder, does anybody teach truth, how do I know what to believe?
It is not just children who believe that December 25th is actually Jesus’ birthday, many adults do as well. Several years ago when my mother died just before Christmas, buried on Christmas Eve, a well-meaning adult trying to console me said how wonderful it must be for her to be in Heaven on Jesus’ birthday! I was screaming on the inside! Do you really think that they celebrate December 25th as Jesus’ birth in Heaven?
Is it important to teach about Jesus’ birth? Yes it is because it fulfilled many prophecies showing that He was the promised Messiah. My question becomes, do we over emphasize that December 25th IS Jesus’ birthday and allow many non-Biblical references that taint the account of His birth so that we inadvertently teach a false account of Jesus’ birth? Many people view the Christmas story from songs sung in church, plays performed in churches and Christian playhouses, and similar media, not from the Bible. Biblical truth is set aside for cultural interpretation.
When I mentioned this question in a Facebook group for those serving in children’s ministry, I got various answers. One answer that I liked was that some people do not know when their birthday is and so they select a day and celebrate and that’s fine. Again, I have no problem with remembering Jesus’ birth, but I do take issue with the view that Jesus was born on December 25th. For many who celebrate the birth and reference that we don’t know what day it is, I commend you. For those adamant about December 25th being Jesus’ birthday I ask, where do you draw the line between the Truth of Scripture and man-made doctrines. Which holds more importance in your life?
Celebrate the birth of Jesus, but I encourage you to do so with Biblical accuracy and emphasize that it is a remembrance of all that God promised and that Jesus was fully human, as well as fully God. That His birth showed He was sent from God, but His death as our sacrifice and subsequent resurrection were His mission, why He came to earth as a child. The hope that His birth brought, and the hope that we have of His return.
Why am I so passionate about this? Because I do not want children, youth or adults, misled, confused, when it comes to the things of God.
Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment (James 3:1, HCSB)