The celebration of Christmas is under scrutiny within the church and from outside the church. Outside the church, the effort is to silence the message of Christ, plain and simple. Within the church the efforts to stop the celebration of Christmas, by the Christian, is usually based in the belief that it this celebration is pagan in its origins and shouldn’t be participated in by Christians. Sometimes though, it is rejected simply because of the materialism that the holiday has become known for.
While Christmas isn’t a holiday that is reported in scripture, or even necessarily celebrated by the early church, not beginning until around the year 336 AD, most of us have chosen to commemorate the birth of Christ on this day. Was Jesus actually born on December the 25? No, very probably not. It was more likely in March. Is this a celebration instituted by God? No, it was instituted by the early Catholic Church, thus the name “Christ Mass.” Don’t the celebrations of the day, have roots in paganism? Some of them do. Hasn’t the day become just a marketing ploy for the materialistically greedy corporations to take advantage of the public? Perhaps, because it truly has become far too materialistic.
So, is it wrong then to celebrate Christmas? I think not, if we keep Christ at the center, but I’ll show you why.
In the celebration of Christmas we, as Christians, look back to the birth of the promised Messiah of whom it was foretold that He would come to save His people from their sins. We also have opportunity to look presently into our own hearts and their condition, whether close to God or distant from Him; as we are reminded of the greatest gift ever given to anyone. “For God so loved this world, that he gave…” Hopefully in this season we will allow the reality of Emanuel, God with us, to cause us to let go of any greed and follow the example of our Father, giving our best gifts to God and men, as well of telling others about our Lord and his life-changing power. We can, and should, also remember that His birth represents only the first coming of this Messiah, and that He is soon coming again.
If these things happen at Christmas, then the day serves as a great reminder of how we should actually be living our lives every day because of the appearing of our Savior, and because our relationship with God now, through Christ.
Also, the pagan influences from ancient times have lost their meaning to us and are not the reasons of our celebration. Just as the names of the days of the week, also had roots in paganism but have lost the association. In fact, many of the traditions associated with Christmas, that were originally pagan in practice, were repurposed, and refocused, by the church to point people toward Christ. This is much like the Apostle Paul’s use of the altar built to the “unknown god” as a way to preach Jesus to the people of Athens, Greece. That altar was built in pagan worship simply out of superstition, to some god – whoever he might be – just in case they had failed to remember or recognize him. So Paul claimed it for the Living God. He told them that Jesus was the man appointed by God, the God previously unknown to them, but who might now be known by them, through Christ.
Another reason I think the celebration of Christmas is appropriate for us, if we choose to celebrate it as Christians, is found in principle in, Romans chapter 14 and in 1 Corinthians chapter 8. The Apostle Paul made it clear that some of us would see things differently than others. While one would NEVER eat meat offered to idols, someone else may not see that as anything to even consider, knowing that idols are ‘dumb’, simply objects and not truly God. He admonishes us to not judge one another in these things, but adhere to our own God given convictions, knowing that God who knows our hearts, will judge each of us.
If you feel it is inappropriate to have a tree in your home, or to even celebrate the day, be true to that conviction. If you have no such conviction, don’t feel pressured to give up your celebration. Don’t judge one another though, if you don’t see eye to eye.
Here I’m sure all will agree, Jesus is the reason for this season. He deserves worship. He deserves praise, so if you do any celebration this Christmas, be sure HE is at the center of it: not materialism, not paganism, but Jesus.
Merry Christmas from the Laudermilk family.