Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thoughts on Christmas....

Is Christmas a day Christians can celebrate with a good conscience, or is Christmas condemned in the Scriptures? Whilst I understand that there used to be a Pagan festival on Dec. 25th, and whilst I also understand that "Christmas" today is a really just a consumer driven, money grab, those are not the things that I want to remember and celebrate during "Christmas".

If I don't do the Santa thing or engage in the secular "Christmas" celebrations, which usually lead to some sort of debauchery, what in the world is wrong with me taking time out to remember the second most important event ever in the history of the entire human race?

The incarnation, the birth of Christ, is one of the most essentially parts of the Christian Gospel. "The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14 HCSB) This is something about which Paul says, "most certainly, the mystery of godliness is great: He was manifested in the flesh." (1 Timothy 3:16 HCSB) Why is it such a mystery? "For the entire fullness of God’s natures dwells bodily in Christ." (Colossians 2:9 HCSB)

This was such an important event that, "Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!'" (Luke 2:13-14 HCSB)

The hymn sung by the choir of angels (heavenly host) is well-known today as the "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," from the first words of verse 14 in the Latin Vulgate (glory to God in the highest).

If I want to spend this time with family and fellow believers, praising the wondrous glory of God, what's wrong with that? If I want to use this occasion to offer to others the peace of God that is available through faith in Jesus Christ, what is wrong with that?

You may not want to become engaged in a secular celebration. You may not want to celebrate the pagan Sol Invictus. Neither do I. I want to give glory to God for the birth and incarnation of my Lord Jesus. Without this birth nothing would have been possible in regards to our salvation and the age to come.

"One person considers one day to be above another day. Someone else considers every day to be the same. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind. Whoever observes the day, observes it to the Lord but whoever does not observe the day, it is to the Lord that he does not observe it." (Romans 14:5-6 HCSB)

Then Paul says a few verses later:

"But you, why do you criticize your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before the tribunal of God." (Romans 14:10 HCSB)

So if you choose not to celebrate Christmas, God bless you, may you do so to the glory of God. Don't judge others who do celebrate Christmas to the glory of God.

It seems that some have a bone to pick with Christmas. They don't like Santa? Neither do I. They don't like the consumerism? Neither do I.

However, there is nothing wrong with Christmas being instituted to counteract a very popular pagan/secular. Christmas can be a great alternative to secular/pagan nonsense. We cannot and should not stop the peoples of the world from celebrating. Therefore we should not be surprised that at this time of the year even non-Christians are celebrating "Christmas," that is, using many of the customs now called Christmas customs.

I am not condemning the "Christmas is pagan" crowd. And I certainly am not going obligate them to celebrate Christmas. That would be wrong. Christians have never been commanded to celebrate Christ's birth annually. But we have never been forbidden from doing so. Therefore we are free to do so or not do so. Many dear Christians have been falsely taught that celebrating Christmas is celebrating paganism, and they are wracked with guilt because of it. My message to them is: you are doing nothing wrong to celebrate the birth of God's Son; in fact, praising and thanking God for the gift of His Son is beautiful worship in the sight of God. There is also nothing wrong with using some of the winter customs, provided you keep them in perspective and don't allow them to bury the celebration of Christ's birth.

The Christmas that Christians celebrate is a feast in honor of the great mystery of the Incarnation. In that mystery the Word who was God, became man. In order to redeem us, God became one of us. He became part of His own creation. The Incarnation affirms the importance of both man and the whole of creation. “For God loved the world in this way...”

What am I advocating?

"I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David." (Luke 2:10-11 HCSB)

Messiah the Lord, was born for you. YOU dear sinner!! You have a Savior!! REJOICE MY FRIEND!! THIS IS GREAT NEWS. He gave up his glory to become a man for you!! Rejoice and SING ALOUD! Is this not reason to celebrate???!!! I certainly think so!!

Grace and peace to all,
Matt

2 comments:

Lars said...

Those admonitions from Romans 14 can be applied to so many of the "issues" in the Church. If only we put love of each other above pride in our "right" positions, how differently would the world see the Bride of Christ? Of course there are some serious doctrinal issues that need to be addressed; I liked your "top ten" post. But even that needs to be done by humble shepherds, not proud sinners.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)

It's very true that most division isn't really about doctrinal disputes or things like that; usually the division is underneath, in the heart, long before some "issue" like Christmas, or voting, or alcohol vs. grape juice, comes up to tear brothers and sisters apart. It's what comes out of us that defiles us (Mark 7:14-23).

Matthew said...

You are so right Lars! A very searching comment. How often do we take a minor issue and use it to beat up our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Thanks!