Every year, I am reluctant to celebrate Christmas. The little I know about its history has convinced me that it is actually an unchristian festival. I understand why and how it started, and I appreciate why it continues to this day, but celebrating Christmas has never been an expression of my faith in Jesus Christ. However, every Christmas, I find myself giving in to the pressure to be merry and cheerful, so as not to offend.
In my lifetime, Christmas has never been about Jesus. It has been about other things. The decoration of homes and trees. The giving of gifts. The receiving or expectation of gifts. The feasts for the rich. The charity for the poor. Sending and receiving of cards and wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
It is a time when people who don’t know Jesus, for a season, embrace His qualities and welcome Him into their hearts, only to do away with Him when the hype is over. Christ doesn’t abide in their hearts, because it wasn’t Him they loved. It was Christmas. It was the fanfare. It was the idea of being kind and loving, and the ample opportunity to be so to others. To not succumb to the Christmas hype and cheer, even if you don’t believe in Jesus, is to be classified a ‘Scrooge’, and no one wants that on their reputation!
At Christmas time, charities receive the vast majority of the support that enables them to carry on their work all year round. It is at this time that people care to give or are burdened or guilt-ridden to do so. At this time, they are someone else, and in the New Year, they become themselves again. But the poor are poor all year round. And the destitute suffer in June too!
This period that we celebrate Christmas, was never a Christian holiday. It was a pagan period of festivities. However, in the fourth century, one Pope Julius I chose December 25 as the official day to celebrate the Advent (Read about Christmas History). I suppose he felt he was redeeming the day and season for Jesus. He was making Jesus relevant, even in a pagan festival, and took advantage of the opportunity to celebrate and proclaim Christ instead. I suppose it was quite noble.
But the world appears to have reclaimed this season, as each year, they resist the references made to Jesus, Christ, Christmas and God! Christmas was turned to Xmas. Jesus Christ replaced with Santa Clause (or Father Christmas). Sacrificial love was exchanged for commercialism!
It is now better to wish Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings. They have pretty much succeeded in taking Christ out of Christmas, while the Christian world continues to wrestle to keep the season relevant to the Faith, through carols and Christian messages about “the reason for the season”. But I suppose if we kept the Reason in our hearts all year round, we wouldn’t need the season… And I would wager that MORE would believe in the Jesus we worship.
At this time of year, I feel a certain sadness. Not because I don’t believe Jesus was born around this period (we can’t know for certain when He was born), but because I know that soon, everyone will forget…and He will be rejected the majority of the following year, just as He was this year. I wonder how that makes Him feel. I wonder how He feels when we only remember to obey Him and walk in love for one brief season of the year, as a way of celebrating Him or associating with Him.
Every year at Christmas, Jesus is not exalted as the God of Heaven, who has overcome the world, but is humbled as a Baby in a Manger. He is so much easier to love that way. He is no Lord, but a powerless baby, who only desires gifts and not obedience.
However, Birthday celebrations are notable for how they esteem the person, their maturity and attainment, rather than going on and on about the day they were born! And at Easter time, He is killed every year. He is powerless on the Cross and in the grave, until Easter Monday, when He is declared risen. But He was born once, and He died once for our sins, and we need not wait til a certain period of the year to remember this…or to honour Him as the God of Heaven and Earth.
So, today, on Christmas Day, I find that I am not merry, but sober. My heart aches for Jesus, because this is not about Him. I don’t believe this is what He wanted or had in mind when He commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel, teaching them to obey everything He had taught them (Matt 28:19-20).
We don’t need a season. We don’t need Christmas. We only need today and everyday to abide in Jesus and walk in love. For to obey is better than sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22).
Photo credit: http://www.courageouschurch.tv
If you liked this post, you might like JUST ANOTHER MERRY CHRISTMAS?
Are you blessed by this ministry? Why not partner with me?