Most people know that Jesus wasn't actually born on December 25th. Based on descriptions of what was going on in the Bible around the time of His birth, it's likely He was born around springtime.
It was Christian "Good Religious People", as part of establishing "Church" power over the top of other people's religions and regulating "Church" time, that set December 25th to celebrate Jesus being born into the world (the word "Christmas", of course, is created from "Christ" and "mass", via the Roman "Church"). Unlike many of us today, however, the original Christians just weren't interested enough in the actual day Jesus was born to celebrate it (they also didn't care much about what He was doing when He was a kid). Far more important to their lives and hope was understanding Jesus when He was active as the Messiah – the Christ.
So are we right to celebrate "Christmas"?
As always, it depends on where we're coming from in doing so, and how it defines us. The current bloat-fest of commercialism and materialism that the larger culture (including the "Christian" larger culture) calls "Christmas" couldn't be further from Jesus Christ. It just doesn't matter how often we point to the "Three Wise Men" and their gifts to "justify" what we're doing each Christmas – nothing in the story of Jesus' birth has anything to do with our Christmas gift-giving. In fact, if we were to take any lesson from the gifts brought by the "Wise Men", we'd be using Christmas to – not give to each other, or ourselves, or the "Church" – but to give to Jesus and what's actually important to Him. And that just doesn't happen.
So, is it wrong to celebrate what our culture calls "Christmas" or give each other presents for it?
Depends. Are we pretending that by doing so we're doing something Christian – meaning, that by buying each other TVs and Starbucks gift cards we're following the commands of Jesus Christ? If so, then yep, it's wrong. In fact, it's SUPER wrong, because it simply perpetuates the whole "Jesus died so I could buy cheap crap at Walmart" concept that's so rampant in our "Christian" culture we don't even realize it's there.
That being said, there's nothing wrong with the actual gift-giving and so on (as long as we aren't elevating commercialism and materialism above Jesus, of course). People in all cultures, for all of human history, have found ways to add some fun and joy to the dark, cold time of each year. Putting up pretty lights that dazzle our eyes, "planting" a living tree in our living rooms, and adding a little fun with some gift exchange are what our culture enjoys doing when winter brings extra darkness and shivering cold to our lives.
We just shouldn't be pretending it's all about Jesus, because it's not. Not even when we throw in some extra "church" services, or toss a few extra coins in the bell-ringer's bucket.
What is or would be about Jesus?
- How about buying and sharing blankets with homeless families this season – not because it's "Christmas time", but because you are a Christian and it's freakin' cold out there for a lot of folks these days?
- How about giving your time to help feed hungry elder-people in your community, or your money to help rebuild the lives of brothers and sisters who've been fire-bombed in their communities because they're Christian – not "for Christmas", but because you're a Christian and your Bible-based faith commands you to care for these people every day or your life?
- How about gathering in the home of your local Christian sisters and brothers, and getting on your knees, raising your hands, and singing songs of praise to God for Jesus – not because "it's Christmas", but because your Christian life belongs to Him every day?
I wish you all a wonderful holiday season.
I pray that more and more each day we will all come to reject the false and illogical connections that Good Religious People and their "Church" continue to make between what are simply expressions of our human culture, and what are things, ideas, and practices really about Jesus as He's revealed to us in His Bible.
I pray that as we add some holiday fun and color to our winter season (something I intend to do!), we also just refuse any longer to pretend those things are part of following Jesus Christ and doing what He says. Every Christian in the world comes to God with their human culture attached - and must learn to stop confusing their human culture with what God requires of them.
I pray that we will continue to mature far beyond what "The Church" as defined as fulfilling our duties to God, and thereby actually earn heaven (something "The Church" never has and never will accomplish).
I pray that you remain safe, and warm, and filled – and that the true joy, fun, and happiness that comes from the real Jesus in your heart leads you daily to find ways to help others also be safe, and warm, and filled.
Have some fun and give gifts this year, sure! But mostly BE the gift that God has made of you to the people around you. Anything else? It's just not Christian.
This article written by Lynne at http://NoJunkJustJesus.blogspot.com/. You can contact Lynne at NoJunkJustJesus@gmail.com.