The first time I scrolled through my social media feed (just recently mind you) and saw a post that said Christians should not be celebrating Christmas, my first inclination was…what! Why?
Is this our latest debate? Is this what we are seriously arguing over?
Ok, let’s hit the pause button for a moment. After reading that post and then going straight to Google (because that’s what we do nowadays), I realized I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions.
I also had to see for myself if this was really a topic Christians were concerned about, and sure enough, it was. In fact, it’s been a long-standing debate for centuries!
So, I did a little research and investigation. I was seriously adamant about trying to determine why a fellow believer would even ponder not celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, there is a lot to unpack here, so bear with me. This is also my own stance on the issue at hand, so please keep that in mind.
However, as I began to rediscover the unconventional and miraculous birth of our Lord and get enveloped by His warmth as I read His Word, I also felt an icky feeling that was bringing on a surge of heat within me. That heat wave was a tinge of anger. I felt it and knew exactly where it was coming from.
Y’all (sorry my Southern roots are coming out; they tend to flow when I’m a bit flustered) the enemy is at large here! He is on a mission, and it is to divide the church and body of believers. That is very clear!
That fraud’s strategy has always been the same, to deceive and confuse. Of course, he is going to meddle with the heart of a beloved believer and take what is meant to be a celebration of our Lord and make it all about legalism, self-righteousness, wrongful worship, and division.
While both sides have their view and are simply sincere in their reasoning behind why they choose to celebrate or not to celebrate Christmas, let’s start from the beginning and go from there.
The Origin of Christmas
Perhaps the main concern Christians have about Christmas is that it has pagan origins. The history of Christmas has evolved over the years, and while there is still much speculation surrounding Christ’s birth, leaving scholars still mystified and baffled by the events, much of the debate revolves around the actual date of December 25.
The Bible doesn’t provide us with an exact date of Jesus’ birth, so December 25 has always been a source of contention among believers. Not only that, but tensions have also ensued regarding the traditions and customs that surround that date.
Christmas was actually not even observed until the fourth century, yet Romans celebrated Winter Solstice in mid-December since the third century. This holiday celebrated the sun god, Sol Invictus, and of course, took place on December 25.
Since their celebrations revolved around mythical gods and astronomy, the concern is not only that the date coincides with the birth of our Messiah, but that some of the traditions, practices, and ways they celebrated are still practiced by Christians today.
Since most ancient holidays took place during the coldest and darkest time of the year, the use of evergreen trees, mistletoes, and holly was used to bring in color. Candles were used to extend a soft glow and eating, drinking, and holding big feasts became a way to stay warm and be merry.
While the root of many holidays worldwide does tend to stem from adults having a good ‘ole time and sometimes getting caught in lustful and sinful temptations, I can understand why one would choose to completely opt out.
However, what we must understand is that when we get caught up in the “how” we celebrate, we fail to see “why” we celebrate.
The holiday of Christmas, while it has changed a little over time, eventually became a holiday celebration for all. That means adults and children. Believers and non-believers. Sinners and saints.
So, while the mystery behind the date and all the symbolism of Christmas can be tricky to track down, we mustn’t get caught up in the legality of it all, or question if it is worth celebrating. Rather, we should approach it with one simple question.
What Would Jesus Do?
Since the Christmas holiday wasn’t really created until well after Jesus ascended into heaven, it may beg to question, would Jesus celebrate His birthday if He were here today? Have you actually ever thought about that before?
Being the humble man that He was, but also one that did celebrate and take part in festive occasions from weddings (John 2) to the feast of Tabernacles (John 7) and Passover (Luke 22), just to name a few, I would venture to say yes!
However, I don’t think it would be how we celebrate birthdays today. He most likely wouldn’t have some Pinterest-perfect themed party with a multi-tiered cake where everyone gathers around to sing “Happy Birthday.”
No, that’s not at all like our God. If we just ponder on how He entered this world, and how lived His life as the Son of Man, I’ll bet He wouldn’t focus on how His day was celebrated. He wouldn’t even take notice of the presents, but instead set His sights on who was present!
Meaning, He would immediately see who needed rest, and extend a helping hand. He would take notice of the lost and lonely and sit beside them.
He would most likely strike up a conversation with a woman who needed some “Living Water” (John 4:5-30) and take the opportunity to teach the ways of the Father.
So, here is my question to you, my fellow brother and sister in Christ — what do you think Jesus would do? Whether you choose to celebrate Christmas or not, I believe these three things are what Jesus wants from us this time of year.
1. Focus on the Present
This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).
We serve a God that brings forth new mercies every single day. That should fill us with so much hope! That said, there is a plan and purpose for every day we wake up with breath in our lungs.
What will you do today with the gifts and talents God has so graciously given you? How will you show those that God has placed in your life that you are grateful for them? How will you utilize today to glorify God?
Whether it is December 25 or January 25, we can make the choice to look at each day as a gift and a way to honor God with our whole hearts.
2. Serve Others
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased (Hebrews 13:16).
It is so easy for us to get caught up in the whirlwind of the holiday season, striving to decorate, bake, attend festivities, and do all the things, that we fail to actually find peace and joy.
This is exactly where we can all agree that the commercialism of Christmas can totally steal away the whole “reason for the season.”
However, when we step outside of our magical to-do-list, and shift our focus, we open our eyes to a world in need.
The lonely neighbor who could use some cookies to pick her up, the friends who just added to their family and could use some extra hands to help, to the one wavering in their faith who could really use prayer.
How can you serve those around you and be the hands and feet of Jesus this Christmas?
3. Sit with the Lonely and Lost
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
Who comes to mind when you think of the one that is lonely? What about someone who is lost? Picture that person now.
The dear friend who is suffering a wave of grief or dealing with anxiety, or the church member who is currently in need of a revelation and guidance in their life.
How can you reach them this Christmas? Maybe invite them over for coffee or send them a sweet card in the mail. Maybe offer some sweet words of encouragement or impart some wisdom. This time of year always gives way for us to soften our hearts and sit with those in need.
I pray we are able to respect the sentiments behind whether we choose to celebrate or not celebrate Christmas, and allow ourselves to get completely wrapped up in the goodness of our God.
Friend, we must also realize that there is an enemy that is alive and well, doing his best to rip us apart, we mustn’t let him win! Friend, we must also realize that there is an enemy that is alive and well, and doing his best to rip us apart, we mustn’t let him win!
Let’s come together in peace as we posture our hearts towards honoring the most extraordinary birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and live that love out each and every day.