I received a lovely letter from a dear sister in Christ the other day. She is recently saved and introduced to the Bible rightly divided. With the Christmas season upon the world she asked me some very interesting questions beginning with why I was not keen on celebrating Christmas with the rest of the world. I sent her an audio teaching by David Reid which I recommend listening to. Another by Justin Johnson can be found as well. Click each link as both are very compelling. This post is a reflection of my replies to her own thoughts and inquires, reformatted to fit a blog post.
Sister writes: “I am unconvinced that celebrating Christ’s birth, just because it is not called for in the Bible, is without merit.”
Nowhere in the Pauline epistles is the birth of Christ presented as a cause for celebration. On the contrary, it is His death, burial and resurrection which Paul (the Apostle Christ sent to believers today) glories in.
Gal 6:14… “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
If however, by celebrating His birth you are intentionally honoring the Lord in truth, I say go for it. Every day is a good day to honor our Lord and there is certainly nothing wrong with doing so on Dec 25. There is no more or less reason given the date on the calendar. Every day is a day of grace. As Paul says, each one of us saints does that which our current level of understanding allows.
Romans 14:5-8… “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.“
And we have ultimate liberty in Christ.
Gal 5:1… “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yolk of bondage.”
1 Cor 10:23… “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”
Of course, we ought not use our liberty as an occasion for the flesh.
Gal 5:13… “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”
I’m not going to try to talk anyone out of anything and I do not want to seem like a Grinch or Scrooge or anything to ruin someones fun day. My last intention is to cause another to somehow stumble.
Rom 14:13-14… “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.”
By all means celebrate our Lord however you feel moved to celebrate Him, knowing that He came to die for our sin in our place, was buried, and was raised again for our justification. For me however, I ask myself a simple but highly significant question: does the celebration of Christmas, as the world celebrates it, serve to bring people closer to that very simple and specific saving knowledge of Christ, or does it lead people farther away from the ultimate truth the world so desperately needs to know?
What I now (at this point in my own walk) see Christmas to be, is a deliberate attempt by the world (and its god – santa) to lead people away from that simple saving knowledge: Christ died for my sin and was raised for my justification. Who is santa anyway? What does he say? “Be good and you’ll get what you wish (pray) for.” And… he’s been watching you all year and knows things about you only a “god” would know. Perhaps I’m being overly cynical, but that is one of the most prevalent false gospels taught in the vast majority of religious institutions today, no matter the religion! “Keep the (usually arbitrary) law and I’ll bless you. Fail and, well… not so much.”
When my kids were small I told them santa was real and remember joyfully going to the web site “norad santa” to track his progress around the world eagerly awaiting his arrival at our home. At some time in the future they learned I was lying. Such is not lost on a young mind. Later I told them Jesus was real and expected them to believe me… Thank God both my kids are saved and now have solid understanding, but the false “santa clause” didn’t help the situation!
Sister writes: “There are many important behaviors we do as Christians that are not promulgated in the Bible but are practiced because we want to honor the ones we love and proclaim how special they are: birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc.”
Having just celebrated my sons college graduation, I hear you loud and clear. We ought to celebrate and honor those we love. That’s a big part of day to day living, building one another up, celebrating necessary worldly accomplishments and having some much needed fun. All these special occasions, generally speaking, have nothing to do with Christ however (unless one includes Him intentionally, which we should). The world honors people all the time and Christ is nowhere to be found (award shows anyone?). We (the world) doesn’t need Christ to say happy birthday… and the world (to my eyes) does not need (nor want) Christ to say merry Christmas. It wants presents. It wants to beat people up on black Friday (a cheery thought in itself) to get the best deal on the latest psychologically manufactured commercial craze. The material aired on television is not called programming for nothing. If you think such programming does not manipulate you, read Edward Bernays. (Scrooge… yea, I know. Keep reading.)
Sister writes: “Why should we exclude the birth of the most important person ever born, just because the date is wrong or some culture group in the past ascribed a different meaning to some of those practices?”
Neither is the main reason I choose not to celebrate Christmas, though both do have some bearing. Paganism IS false religion. Christ-mass IS a catholic construct. catholicism IS pagan religion with elements of Christ added in to attract what pure paganism could not. To answer directly, perhaps it is because I have come to think of Christ as FAR more than the most important “person” ever born, that I think the way I do? Jesus Christ IS our Creator God (Col 1:16), taken our form (John 1:14), knowing full well that His “best friends” would torture and kill Him; knowing full well that His ultimate forgiveness for this ultimate crime (and sin itself) is what complete and utter atonement, on our behalf, would take. Imagine!
Imagine if all the time, energy and money spent surrounding the fables of Christmas was instead focused on the truth of the gospel!!!
Acts 13:39… “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
Rom 3:21… “BUT NOW the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;”
Sorry santa… I don’t have to “be good” to receive Gods free gift (Rom 5:14-19)! I’m already no good. Go figure…
Rom 3:23… “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
Yet God altered our reality for us…
Romans 3:26… “To declare, I say, at this time HIS righteousness: that He might be just, AND the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
His birth (to the nation Israel – John 1:11) and life’s ministry (to the nation Israel and those Gentiles who would bless them – Mat 15:24) just kind of fades into the background… Not into insignificance by any means, as all scripture is profitable, but into something which, at least to me, just does not compare to the mystery information given to Paul toward an unrepentant world, and hidden by the worlds false “conditional” religious (Christmas) system of reward and punishment.
While the world constantly praises itself on how good it believes itself to be, especially at this time of year, it misses completely the very fact that in Gods eyes, it is no good at all, no matter how hard it tries (see Rom 3:23 above). That, to me, is kind of depressing to be perfectly honest. All the love, all the smiles, all the prayers… and they totally miss the “Pauline reason for EVERY season”. People who believe that they are “good”, they are the ones who will populate hell. Wake up y’all!
Where in the worlds celebration of Christmas is 1 Cor 15:1-4…? It is not lying in the manger wrapped in swaddling clothes offering peace and unity to the world at large. When that little baby grew up He said…
Mat 10:34… “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”
Merry Christmas indeed!
Peace on earth will come only when Christ takes physical possession of it during the millennial reign. Luke 2 (the Peanuts Christmas story) is a reference to exactly that… had Israel believed the Messiah had come, prophesy would have been fulfilled and Israel would have been (violently) restored as the worlds Righteous and Just capital. Clearly that did not happen which is why Christ must yet divide and conquer via judgement and wrath before He brings peace.
While current and very real spiritual peace with God is what all saved people now enjoy, we only enjoy it because of Christ’s “mystery” reasons; Gods longsuffering with a fallen and sinful world. Every day IS a day the world deserves Gods wrath but does not get it because of what Christ revealed to Paul alone. The world hangs by that single thread which I personally believe must be wearing thin. Paul literally hated Christ after the flesh (Acts 8-9)… yet came to “know Him no more” after the flesh, after Christ began the body of Christ with Paul.
2 Cor 5:16… “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”
Christ “after the flesh” regards Christ’s earthly ministry to Israel, which includes the worlds (false gospel) Christmas message… “be good because santa (god) is watching and you won’t get your wishes (prayers) answered.” Paul instructs us…
Col 3:1-3… “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
We are no longer who we once were. Things of the earth have become far less meaningful. We are ambassadors of the Most High God who have been given a remarkably serious message to communicate to a world that does not want to hear it. The world wants Christmas (Santa, Frosty, Rudolph, decorations, feel good sermons, presents, etc.) not Christ. And if Christ at all, a meek and mild baby Jesus singing songs of peace and joy; not a Just Creator who will eventually give the world exactly what it deserves. The world deserves judgement and war in stark contrast to the free grace and peace offered it today that the world spits on. (Yup, that hurts.) If the worldly Christmas message keeps people focused away from the gospel of grace (a “get out of impending wrath free and join me” card) and back upon itself and its own sense of “inherent goodness”, then I personally have to choose to NOT participate in it. Such is a false gospel and an outright lie which will not go unnoticed by Him who sets all things in motion.
Gal 1:8-9… “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
Those are very serious words.
Sister writes: “Ancient druids wore clothes, burned fires, and ate food. Does that mean we should be naked, put out our fireplaces, and only drink water?”
Of course not. However, we were those ancient druids and many of us still are, no matter how “civilized” we might seem.
Eph 2:11-13… “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: BUT NOW in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
Now we (those of us saved) know better, thanks be to God for calling Paul; His written Word, and the unprophesied extension of grace and peace toward this entire fallen world free from the works of the Law (if/then) which no one but Christ Himself can possibly keep!
2 Cor 5:19-21… “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
In time past we, as did (and still do) they, invented our own version of what we wanted God to be. We worshiped the “god of our imaginations” if you will. Ever hear someone say… “well, my god would never do such a thing”? I hear that constantly and my constant reply is that your god is not the God of the Bible. To most of those who profess to “know” Christ, that god is really santa (anagram – satan, the god of this world).
2 Cor 4:3-4… “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.“
A false god gives people what they want (worldly “blessings”), not what they need (spiritual blessings).
Eph 1:3… “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”
Today and every day the world has the opportunity to accept the greatest gift ever offered it, and what does it do? Only a few even notice…
2 Cor 9:15… “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” Total forgiveness by way of His Son… joint heirs (Rom 8:17) along with the same Son. The mind reels! If the world only knew… (how different would it be?)
Sister writes: “When Christ is the center of my Christmas celebration, It really doesn’t matter to me if ancient druids or martians had lit trees or had coca cola Santa’s. Discernment is the difference. Peace be with you Ted!”
And there is the critical difference between you (Sister) and the world. You understand what God in Christ did for you, as do I. It is what I try to celebrate every day (not saying I necessarily succeed either… Lord knows I have more than my own share of struggles). Celebrate Christ as you see fit, IN TRUTH; on Dec. 25, March 3, July 8, Oct 31 and every day, and peace be with you too Sister! Today is a day of free grace, just like any and every other day that the Lord hath made.
2 Cor 6:2… “(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”
Let us rejoice and be glad in each and every day! Let us today and every day do something for the sake of Him and His body, the church. What is special or not special about this day except for Gods longsuffering grace with us?
Rom 5:1… “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”
Philippians 4:4… “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAY: and again I say, Rejoice.”
Woohoo…! We (saved) are at peace with Him! He died and rose again FOR US! I “should” be good but my peace and security with Him is no longer linked to a conditional “santanic” system of “work and reward”. Now if that’s Merry Christ (no “mass” for me, please and thank you)… I’m all for it 🙂
Go out and find someone to share that gift with today and every day!
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