I don’t know about you, but I grew up not celebrating Jesus’ birth at Christmas because “he wasn’t really born then.” I didn’t recognize the advent season, I didn’t go to Christmas Eve services, and I certainly avoided song lyrics that mentioned “Jesus was born on Christmas day.” Santa was really more the focus of Christmas Day, which, looking back, doesn’t make me any different than secular Christmas celebrators. (I also got some pretty confusing ideas about Santa and God, thinking both gave rewards based on my goodness performance. So wrong, and so contradictory to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ! But that’s another topic entirely). I’m sure I’m not the only person from a Christian background with this tradition – or maybe this idea seems completely foreign to you! While I understand the thought behind this idea, I’ve come to disagree with it.
How we came to celebrate Jesus’ birth on Christmas day is also another topic, so I won’t delve into that here. For those of you who may have grown up with similar traditions, I have a few questions for you:
- Do you think Jesus is offended that the world remembers Him on one day, even though that day is “wrong?”
- Do you think debating about the day is attractive to non-believers?
- Is it right for us to not acknowledge Jesus (any more than we usually do) on a certain day when non-Christians may actually be thinking about Him?
We absolutely should not be CEO Christians – Christmas-Easter Only. We should live every day in recognition, celebration, and awe of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection. While the Jews had many God-mandated days of festival and celebration, the only New Testament official “day” of recognition of the Lord is the first day of the week. In fact, much of Jesus’ life and teachings focused on devoting your whole heart and life through everyday sacrifices and practice to the Lord, not on honoring God only on the days of festival, or the commanded animal and monetary sacrifices. So from this standpoint, I understand not wanting to place too much emphasis on remembering Jesus on one or two pre-designated days of the year only.
BUT – our world is incredibly broken, desperately hurting, hopelessly searching for answers in every corner other than the Answer himself. If the world pauses only for a moment to dwell on the humble birth of Christ, is it right for us, “on principle,” to not acknowledge the spiritual aspect of Christmas? (The answer is no!) If we only celebrate material possessions at worst, or general peace, goodwill, and family bonding apart from Christ at best, are we any better off than the rest of the world? Doesn’t that mean the world’s ideas have clandestinely seeped into our Christian lives? Doesn’t that mean the world is winning?
So, this year, don’t feel guilty if you want to celebrate Christmas with a focus on Christ. Read the birth story of Christ with your family (and friends!). Talk about what Christ’s coming to earth means. Take every advantage of the opportunity where the world’s thoughts shift, even for a moment, to Jesus. Plant a seed. Who knows? Jesus may begin to cross their minds on other days, too.