Christmas and Christians

By Amber

 

Christmas is right around the corner, Isaac’s about to be spoiled beyond appropriateness, and many are crossing their fingers, hoping to avoid a big holiday debt.

I don’t mind the holiday season: it is nice to listen to the Christmas music, see the lights and continue family traditions, but there are a few things that just don’t sit right with me and that may change the way our little family treats the big day in the future.

I think we all know that December 25th was not the birthday of Christ, but ask any believer and the more important reason to celebrate this unusual day, is simply the representation of the birth of our Savior. That seems innocent to me and a noble idea, except that leads us to a few more problems: 1) the actual origins of Christmas are less than admirable and hardly “Christian” 2) whereas the Bible never mentions the birth date of Jesus, or encourages us to celebrate it, observing his death each Sunday is actually commanded, yet unfortunately neglected by many 3) many of our Christmas traditions simply don’t harmonize with the teachings and life of Christ and force undue value and attention to often unnecessary and wasteful material possessions.

If we could spend our Christmas, and bring up our children, the way my husband and I would like, I think it would revolve more around going out and doing for those who are destitute, as well as spending time with family or the church. I don’t think giving gifts to our families is wrong or bad- I think we should do thoughtful things for those we love throughout the year. And I don’t think giving to those in need should be reserved for Thanksgiving or Christmas (Matthew 25:34-36), but I think it would be a valuable statement to make for our children, to go against the grain on such a highly celebrated day.

And if any special, extra focus would be given to Christ that day, it would be about the life he lived after his birth. Something about the life Christ led makes me think that our idea of Christmas isn’t the way he would want us to remember his birth, if he had asked us to do so.

However, I think it’s very important to remember the life of Christ numerous times each day. I know I can’t be more Christ-like or get through the day in a way that’s pleasing to God without giving attention to the Bible and his life every day, and we need to provide that outline for our children every day, not just once a year. Of course, I know that many who celebrate Christmas are also diligent to do this.

But this isn’t an article written to cast judgment on others. Family tradition is difficult to break, and our own families haven’t had the most supportive reactions to even our wishes for less gifts, so who knows how the future will play out. Trust me, this year, our family will be celebrating along with most of America with too many presents, lots of decorations, food, movies, games, and laughing and fun and pictures.

But I do hope that we can all give thought to what Christ would want from us every day, even Christmas day.

And if there are areas we can correct or change a little, I hope we have the strength to do it. Minutes spent in the word reveal what Christ desires- that we walk with him and separate ourselves from this world. That we are compassionate and giving each day, and that we serve him with all our being – and even our money. Our lifestyles should reflect our commitment to God and to a home in heaven, not temporal happiness on earth. Honestly, it’s cliche but around $450 billion is spent on Christmas in America: aren’t there better things that believers in Christ could do with that money? Aren’t there better ways we could show the world that we follow Christ besides showering our loved-ones with non-essentials?

Time spent with family or with strangers eating (Luke 14:12-14), loving each other and speaking of spiritual matters seems a more fitting way to celebrate Christ than material possessions and gift wrap and cute stockings and music about Santa Claus.

“Tertullian referred to compromising Christians then beginning to join in the pagan midwinter festival celebrated in the Roman Empire, which eventually evolved into what is now Christmas:

“The Saturnalia, the feasts of January, the Brumalia, and Matronalia are now frequented; gifts are carried to and fro, new year’s day presents are made with din, and banquets are celebrated with uproar; oh, how much more faithful are the heathen to their religion, who take special care to adopt no solemnity from the Christians” (Tertullian in De Idolatria, quoted by Hislop, p. 93).

And thank God for grace, because we all move at our own paces and we all have much growing to do in every area of life. I hope this article has simply encouraged meditation, not provoked disagreement. I’ve went from celebrating Christmas as Christ’s birthday, to passionately opposing it in a religious sense, to understanding the celebration, yet disagreeing with the method…so we’ll see what the future brings in my own understanding.

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10 thoughts on “Christmas and Christians

  1. This has been an area of tension in myself since I first heard that Christmas was mostly based on pagan rituals and “Christianized” in the Middle Ages just to give people a winter holiday. But by the time I knew that, I already had a deep, sentimental affection for everything about the season (the decorating, the surprise gifts, the special foods and gathering). I wholeheartedly agree with your perspective. It is absolutely wonderful to give and there is nothing wrong with feasting and gathering joyfully with family friends. But how sad to not follow Christ’s example in how we do this, but “say” we’re doing it in his name. How much more wonderful to be brought up with the focus on helping others (throughout the year – as my parents always did) and Christmas not being all about US and our “wants”. This topic is fresh in our household as Sean is struggling with separating the spiritually wholesome from the cultural rubbish. Thanks for your perspective.

  2. I am so glad someone is writing about this!

    I often struggle with this too! Since I’ve grown into a young woman of God, my mom and I (we’re our own little family) do not do the Santa thing. I think it’s far too distracting, parents lie to their kids and I honestly just don’t like it. This Christmas I suggested we do away with the tree (pagan tradition), and all of it. However I do like the idea of giving presents, because the wise men presented Christ with gifts. I also thought hey, why not pick one unrelated day in the year and trade presents then? Or celebrate in the summer, which is when Jesus was actually believed to be born. I do feel awful participating in all the ‘let’s buy everything because it’s Christmas’ mentality, and sometimes it really does feel like I’m not seperated.

    I love the wonder of Christmas, the lights, the love, it reminds us all of why we put up with all the other junk the rest of the year, to come to a place of peace and calm. To experience the majesty of Christ. But as the world becomes worse and worse, it’s harder to attain that feeling. I guess it’s just too hard for mankind to maintain that grace all year round.

    I guess as I grow older I will develop a better way to cope with the holidays. I know for sure my kids will never know of a jolly red-suited man, and hopefully I will be able to teach them a deeper meaning of Christmas.

  3. Reblogged this on dougjohns and commented:
    for years i have been trying to figure out exactly what is behind my Christianized ‘bah-humbug’ ‘Scrooginess’ … this blogger has carefully put together some good possible explanations that i could never quite articulate: a good read – dj

  4. I also believe that every day should be Christmas in the sense that we celebrate Christ as the Lord of our lives in everything we say and do. If we did that, I believe more people would come to Christ as a result, and we’d see in our land a much-needed revival.

  5. Pingback: Christmas and Christians | the crunchy christian | ElijahWhitehouse.com

  6. One of the things I think we often misunderstand about Christmas is that it is only one small part of the “religious calendar”. Because we in the Church of Christ shun this calendar and because Christmas is the most widely popular, it seems like the birth gets undue attention. In its real context, however, it is only one part of an entire calendar that is designed specifically to lead our thoughts about the entirety of Jesus’ life. I agree with you a great deal that we need to exert the same focus on Jesus’ life that we do on his birth but that is the point of the “church calendar”. Those who follow it do so with an aim to reflect on Jesus throughout the whole year, just in an organized and methodical way.

    I’m not saying we should or must follow this traditional calendar and I do think the secular incursion into this holiday clouds the point a great deal. I just want to throw something else out to consider.

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