You want to get a “good” argument going amongst believers? Try this timely topic; What should Christians think (and do) about Christmas? There are many sides to this issue; on the extreme ends we have people labelling other people “heretic” if they don’t celebrate Christmas, and on the other, equally loud declarations of “heretic” if they do (yes, there is just a touch of hyperbole in there, but it’s actually quite close to that sometimes). Here’s the short and sweet answer;
Romans 14: 4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.
Granted, Paul wasn’t talking specifically about Christmas, but the teaching still fits. It’s true that Christ was not born on December 25th, but that is the day the RC picked to celebrate it on. Was it because of the proximity of the pagan festival that occupied the season? I’m sure that played into it. The question is, that if that is true, should Christians celebrate Christmas or not?
I think it is important to recognize the truth; that the date isn’t the actual date of Christ’s birth. It is also important to note that Jesus never instructed us to observe His birth, nor did the apostles. What He did tell us to remember, and to do was to participate in communion, or the partaking of the bread and wine in memory of Him; of His life, death, and resurrection. I believe that puts the celebration of Christmas firmly in the “freedom in Christ” category.
I personally believe that if you feel compelled to celebrate Christmas, if it is a family tradition and you like to decorate and have a tree and such; go right ahead. If you don’t feel compelled to celebrate it, you don’t like decorating, or putting up a tree, that’s fine too. It isn’t anything that believers should fight over, though I do think it is important that everyone does know that Christ was probably born in the fall or spring rather than the wintertime. Also, if we believers do celebrate it, I’d like to see more of an emphasis on Christ, what His birth means, His fulfillment of prophecies, discuss when He might have actually been born, etc… and less emphasis on consumerism. My memories of Christmas that I’m the most fond of are those surrounding family “get-togethers;” not for the presents I gave or received, or the decorations, but because of the people, laughter, and fun that came with seeing one another and eating a family meal and just “hanging out” together.
I also think that Christians should know a bit about Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights. We are in the midst of the eight days right now, and perhaps I’ll make a bit of a post about it later. In a way, I believe that the RC laying claim to the 25th, instead of incorporating a remembering of Christ’s birth into a Jewish celebration shows the move away from Jewish roots, and into a more “Roman” way of thinking/doing things. This has important implications for other outside influences that may have crept into the RC.
How about Santa? Well, this debate comes up when believers wrestle over the idea of what to tell their children. I’m all for honesty, and doubt if I’d lead my child to believe in Santa, but I understand parents feeling compelled to carry on the Santa Claus tradition with their children. I see nothing wrong with sharing that the figure of Santa Claus is probably derived from Saint Nicholas, and it is up to each person to decide how they are going to “handle” this tradition.
Anywho, I just think it is a timely subject, and would be interested in hearing opinions from any of my readers about it as we head into Christmas Eve. As for me, I don’t put up a tree, nor any decorations, really. I do celebrate Christmas with my family, who really enjoy putting up trees and the like, I give gifts and eat a lot, and like to learn about Hanukkah and all the detail surrounding Christ’s birth…and above all I try to remember every day that my Saviour lives, and remember that His birth, life, death, and resurrection is why I can be assured of my salvation…He’s already given us all the greatest of gifts, we just need to make sure we realize it and accept it.