The pastor of the church is responsible for guiding the church away from the subtle snares of Satan, and leading his people away from spiritually dangerous tendencies. On the other hand, he cannot assume the privilege of enforcing all his own opinions upon everyone else. So balance must be our watch word.
Thus at the risk of being called an "Old Scrooge" I pose the question: Is Christmas Christian? And is it Scriptural? Some Christians who sincerely wish to follow Christ and live a life of charity are rethinking the whole idea of Christmas and their participation in its celebration. Let's turn to the Word of God for our answers.
There are about seven Jewish feast days or holidays in the Bible, but the New Testament Christian is not obligated to observe any of them, including the Sabbath! Paul wrote in Romans 14:5 and 6, "One man esteemeth one day above another: Another esteemeth everyday 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 doeth not regard it."
The Kingdom of God is essentially spiritual and doesn't rest in external religion, as Paul cautioned in Galatians 4:10, "Ye observe days, months, and times and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed labor on you in vain."
Biblical scholars know Jesus wasn't born anywhere near December 25th. The shepherds would not be grazing their flocks by night in the field in winter time. It was probably closer to April. December 25th goes back to Babylon.
We do find a large amount of prophecy concerning the coming Messiah. To punctuate the occasion God dispatched an angelic choir to the shepherds. "Fear not, for good tidings of great joy shall be to all people." So we can certainly go Christmas caroling and sing, "O Little Town Of Bethlehem."
But Jesus never said, "Remember my birth." On the contrary, He commanded us to remember His death, such as the Lord's Supper. So for the first couple of hundred years, the church did not celebrate Christmas. Instead they were winning souls, having miracles, and getting persecuted.
Christmas was adopted around 350 A.D. at the same time that Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire. The so called Holy Roman Catholic Church celebrates its masses -- hence, Christ-mas. Although the Protestant churches don't have mass, they have followed the tradition down through the years. Most of the things carried on today are utterly removed from the events of the night of the Saviour's birth.
Most Christmas traditions practiced around the world, like the "Yule log" and "kissing under the mistletoe" stem straight from heathen paganism. God is not the author of confusion, but we can usually find four or five explanations of the origin of some things done in the name of Christmas.
There is the story of the missionary in the Philippines who was going to cook a chicken for dinner. One of his new converts requested to come and watch. The missionary wondered why. The new convert explained he wished to learn how to do it the Christian way! In the same way, so many things Americans do at Christmas have absolutely nothing to do with Christianity, so why the enthusiasm?
The Greatest Gift ever given was when our Loving Heavenly Father gave His Only Begotten Son, who gave His Life for us. When Jesus was about a year old, the dignitaries from the east presented gifts to Him! If we would be wise men we would commemorate the birthday of Christ by giving a gift to Him! You could give Him your whole heart and a love offering to His Gospel work. God loves a cheerful giver.
But exchanging presents with relatives each Christmas can become so routine. In what ways the world attempts to show love at Christmas time by gift giving, the Christian should do all year round! However, Jesus taught that reward is in giving to those who cannot recompense us. After all, is giving to those from whom we confidently expect to get something back, really giving at all? Many children and adults too murmur because they didn't get what they liked or wanted. Others feel obligated to give largely and even go into debt buying presents. But the Bible says, "Owe no man anything."
Merchants start advertising early to exploit the Christmas Season for commercial purposes. We all know their motive is not religious, but raw greed. Yet many church folk go right along with the world, allowing their attention to be absorbed in buying and exchanging material luxuries. Revelation 11:10 says that when the anti-Christ murders God's two prophets in Jerusalem, that the people who hated them will rejoice, make merry, and send gifts to one another!
When the apostate Christian Church adopted the Christmas tree in the third century, they tried to tie it in with the tree of knowledge of good and evil or the tree of life. Research takes it back that Nimrod married his own mother, who had a child who died, and a cedar tree sprang up upon the grave.
Jeremiah 10:2-4 describes the making of an idol which sounds amazingly similar to the Christmas tree. Read it for yourself! If new converts from idolatrous nations saw Americans young and old gathered in awe around our highly decorated Christmas trees with such admiring eyes, would they not say we are worse idolaters then they, because we deny the fact. It is easy to point out the pagan influence in the customs of heathen countries, but what about our ridiculous practices, such as nailing up a sock.
We won't go onto what a fire hazard the Christmas tree and all the electric lights are. But such expense could build a church or feed a lot of needy people.
Old Kris Kringle or Saint Nick has many stories connected with it. I wonder if Santa is really Satan in disguise because he is forever usurping the rightful place of Christ as the central figure of Christmas. Should we approve of or resent such competition?
There were some young boys attending a church for the first time at Christmas. The pastor appeared in a Santa suit giving out trinkets. The lads watched wide eyed. Later one boy accidentlly saw the pastor changing his clothes in the office and said, "Oh, so you are Santa!" The pastor smiled and said, "Yes!" The boy reported back to his two friends that it was all a gag, and added, "I also doubt this Jesus guy too!"
Parents should never sow deceit and lies into the hearts of their own children!
The Worldly Way
There is a mighty big difference between the way the world celebrates Christmas and the way Christians remember the birth of Christ. The world writes Christmas as "X-mas" leaving out the Lord's Name. Therefore, the Church should strive to take advantage of the Christmas Season to put Jesus of Nazareth back into the forefront. One good way of focusing attention on the Son of God is to have a Nativity Scenes -- maybe live! "X" stands for the unknown and there are multitudes of youth who still don't know Him. So Christians should seize every opportunity to present the Saviour of the world to them. Many sinners just have a "Holiday Season" and don't realize what it's all about. But the public schools, T.V., and the humanists deliberately exclude any references to Christ, so as not to offend Jews and atheists. But let us honor Christ in everything we do at Christmas time, when some might have their hearts open. All benevolence work should be done implicitly in His Name.
The very heart of Christian must be Christ Himself and why He was sent into the world. If Christians themselves take their eyes off this truth and get caught up in gifts, trees, and Santa with all his imps, there is no spiritual value to Christmas at all. It becomes mere indulgence in selfish pleasure. Romans 12 says, "Be not conformed to the world."
Satan really loves to invert the things of God. Some religious folks even celebrate Christ by consuming alcoholic beverages. I know what eggs are, but what is "nog"? Sounds like something from Magog.
Well, to sum it up, Christians are neither commanded nor forbidden to celebrate Christmas. It's something we can all freedom of conscience on. We can have unity without uniformity. But we should realize that the Christmas spirit is not the same as the Holy Spirit. If Christmas is spiritual, why does church attendance always decrease at Christmas time?
Christmas is a season which is a mixture of good and evil (such as the increase in shoplifting, drunk driving accidents, and suicides). But Christians can remember the Birth of Christ in a spiritual way. it's good to gather the family together for fellowship, Bible reading, and prayer. It's certainly alright to have the Lord's Supper on December 25th. But don't get so busy with decorations and cooking that you forget to watch and pray. What effect does Christmas have upon your spiritual condition? Are you going to get exhausted, irritable, and depressed, or be joyous, victorious, and full of love?
Whatever you do, draw closer to and lift up the Lord Jesus Christ Himself! Remember, He is not a baby anymore, and He is coming soon!