Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?





Christmas can be a time of great joy and anticipation. There isn’t a child who doesn’t look forward to Christmas morning and seeing what Santa Claus has brought. For the rest of us, Christmas is a great time to be together with family and friends. It is a time to see those family members we haven’t seen in several months. It is also a time when we get to eat and eat and eat.

But, is all of this right? Is it right to celebrate Christmas?

SOME HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

Christmas is not a New Testament concept. There is nothing in the New Testament that mentions a Christmas celebration. Only Matthew and Luke. begin with the birth of Jesus; John and Mark begin with Jesus as an adult. I gather from that that the birth of Jesus isn’t all that important. Granted, it is important that he became flesh and dwelt among men, but it is far more important what he did after he became flesh than the mere fact he became flesh.

Christmas was first celebrated years after Jesus ascended back to the Father. Christmas was first celebrated in Rome in 354, in Constantinople in 379, and in Antioch in 388. During the third century, the Emperor Aurelian proclaimed December 25 as a special day dedicated to the sun-god, Mithra. There were several pagan holidays celebrated in December. The Catholic Church later proclaimed Dec. 25 as the official birthday of Christ-they did so to accommodate the pagans and allow them to keep their festivals.

We know beyond any doubt that Jesus was not born on December 25. When Jesus was born, shepherds were living in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks (Lk. 2:8). In those days, shepherds drove their flocks forth in March and brought them in in November.

“Christmas” means “Christ mass.” It is a mass devoted to the birth of Jesus.

Now that we know some historical perspective, we can ask, “Should we celebrate Christmas?”




WE CANNOT CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS RELIGIOUSLY

As I mentioned earlier, there is absolutely no mention of Christmas in the New Testament. Had God wanted us to celebrate Christmas he would have told us to do so. He has, after all, instructed us in everything he intends us to do: “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3); God gave Scripture so that “the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17); We are not permitted to add anything to Scripture (Rev. 22:18), and a religious celebration of Christmas would be adding to God’s Word. Since God did not tell us to celebrate Christmas as religious holy day, we can safely say that he doesn’t want us to celebrate Christmas in a religious way.

Christmas is a man-made tradition; man cannot participate in man-made traditions. “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men” (Mk. 7:8). The Jews were ignoring God’s command so that they could carry out their traditions. God commanded that children honor their parent, but the Jews said that if you gave a monetary gift to God you were no longer bound to honor your parents. We can do the same thing, set aside God’s law and establish our own traditions. Notice also: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men” (Col. 2:8).

Some might ask, “Why wouldn’t God want us to celebrate the birth of Jesus?” He does want us to remember a far more important event in Jesus’ life-his death and resurrection. Jesus established the Lord’s Supper so that we could remember his death. When Jesus gave his disciples the bread at the Last Supper, he said, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Lk. 22:19). “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). We meet on the first day of the week so that we can remember Jesus’ resurrection.; Jesus Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week-“He rose early on the first day of the week” (Mk. 16:9).

The early church worshiped on the first day of the week. “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight” (Acts 20:7). “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (1 Cor. 16:2).

What can we not do at Christmas?

  • We dare not have some pageant at the church in which we celebrate Jesus’ birth.

    We ought to say here that there is no biblical authority for any kind of pageant or performance of any kind. What is wrong with pageants and performances is that they make worship into entertainment for us instead of for God. Worship should be for God, not us; he is the audience: In Revelation, the 24 elders fall down before God’s throne and praise him, saying, “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:11). The elders also fell before God and worshiped him (Rev. 5:14).

    Pageants and performances would constitute celebrating Christmas; God has not authorized such.

  • We dare not treat Christmas as some holy day.

    We cannot pretend as though God is to be honored or worshiped in some special way on Christmas. God should always be honored and worshiped, but we can’t elevate this day above any other day.

  • We dare not elevate Christmas above God.

    People do this all the time-they have to cook so they miss worship, they have family coming in so they stay home with them instead of worship, they shop long hours so they don’t have time to visit the sick or to pray.

    This year Christmas falls on a Sunday. Christmas is a time families come together, but we dare not miss worship so that we can be with our families on Christmas. God is to be first in our lives-“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Mt. 6:33).




WE CAN CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS AS A HOLIDAY

As long as we don’t celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, there is nothing wrong with celebrating it.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating holidays. “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God” (Rom 14:5-6). “Let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths” (Col. 2:16). Celebrating Christmas in this way is no different than celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, July 4th, and other holidays.

Some are troubled that Christmas has its origins in paganism. We need to remember that the names of the days of the week and months come from the names of pagan gods-i.e., Sunday gets its name from “Sun-day,” which was a day devoted to the sun by ancient people. It seems to me that just because pagans celebrated a certain holiday does not mean that we can’t celebrate it as long as we don’t mean what the pagans meant,




There is much good about Christmas. Christmas reminds us to be considerate of those less fortunate than we; Jesus himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Such care is a good thing, but we need to have such concern all year long, not just at Christmas.

God does not intend for us to remember Jesus as a baby in a manger. He intends for us to remember him as the crucified and resurrected Lord. And, he expects us to honor Jesus as the resurrected Lord-Are you honoring him as the resurrected Lord?

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4 thoughts on “Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

  1. I feel sorry for you and the way you express your interpretation of scripture. Surely the Advent of the Creator of the Universe into the human race was a momentous event by any standard and should be celebrated as much or more than many of the lesser events that are considered worthy of honoring and remembering by proclaiming a special day as a holiday on their behalf. The death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus are certainly vital to our Christian faith but could not have happened without His birth. All three are wonderful historic events that should be celebrated.
    If you had dismissed the fantasy of Santa Clause that has taken over the celebration of Christmas to a large extent in our country I would have been more appreciative of what you had to say. The celebration of the birth of Jesus, marked by a special holiday does give the opportunity to witness to folk who are not Christian as to the reason of the holiday, which is another good thing about celebrating Christmas even if the date is not exact.

  2. I feel sorry for you and the way you express your interpretation of scripture. Surely the Advent of the Creator of the Universe into the human race was a momentous event by any standard and should be celebrated as much or more than many of the lesser events that are considered worthy of honoring and remembering by proclaiming a special day as a holiday on their behalf. The death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus are certainly vital to our Christian faith but could not have happened without His birth. All three are wonderful historic events that should be celebrated.

  3. I feel sorry for you and the way you express your interpretation of scripture. Surely the Advent of the Creator of the Universe into the human race was a momentous event by any standard and should be celebrated as much or more than many of the lesser events that are considered worthy of honoring and remembering by proclaiming a special day as a holiday on their behalf.

  4. I have great respect for your fluidity of the truth. I have never stopped until I have read the whole of your blogs and I am enlivened as always. Spiritual growth is our greatest challenge as Christians but when we make the attempt, we would realize what is written, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a an, I put away childish things.” 1Cor.13:11. Children celebrate for whatever reasons they or adults can think of, but we should be wiser now that we are grown ups.

    We should celebrate Jesus Christ every day and not just in a preposterous way and as the religions and pagans do. To whom much is given, much is expected.

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