Is there any Christ in Christmas?
The pagan origins of the Christmas Festival are well
documented. But can a celebration that is supposedly dedicated to remembering
the birth of our Saviour be a bad thing? Surely the opportunity to express
gratitude and love to family and friends through the exchanging of gifts must
have some merit. Is this not the perfect opportunity to show good will toward
all men (Luke 2:14)? As God bestowed His good will on mankind by the birth and
ultimate sacrifice of His son.
It is obvious that the remembrance of our Saviour's birth
has been corrupted by rampant commercialism. The Christmas spirit we see
manifest in our shopping malls and media has a closer kinship with Babylon than
Bethlehem. Does this mean that we should toss Christmas into the hedonistic bin
of material sin? Or can Christmas be redeemed so that we may truly honour
Christ. All it may take to put the Christ back into Christmas is the right
Firstly we have the pronouncement made by the prophet
Jeremiah: "This is what the LORD says ... the customs of the peoples are
worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his
chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails
so that it will not totter" (Jeremiah 10:2-4).
The reference to our custom of decorating Christmas trees is
obvious. But what is being condemned a decorative tree, or idolatry. A closer
examination of Jeremiah 10 reveals that God is condemning the creation of
permanent wooden idols carved from the trees of the forest. In the very next
verse (vs. 5) God ridicules these idols because they cannot walk or talk.
Our Christmas tree is merely a decorative centrepiece. It can
only be an idol of worship if we allow it. The gaudiness of the many Christmas
trees and the popularity of plastic trees make it difficult to view them as
anything but a decoration of dubious taste.
Next we have the large bearded gentleman in the kitsch red
suit. The modern representation of Santa with the larger than life countenance
is the creation of the Coca Cola Company. There is no Santa living at the North
Pole in a toy factory, who knows if we've been bad or good, and flies around in
a sled pulled by reindeer. We shouldn't be perpetuating a commercialised myth
that places unreasonable pressure on parents.
The original Santa was a Christian. Santa Claus is an English
form of the Dutch name, "Sinter Klaas." According to tradition, Sinter
Klaas was a 5th century Bishop who was kind and generous towards
children. Santa is not essential to Christmas -– but Christ is! We can use
Santa to share Christ with our children. Dispel the media myth of Santa this
Christmas - he doesn't exist. Relegate the fat man to the ogres swamp with the
rest of the fairy tale creatures. Share with your family the life of Christ and
how that inspired the original Santa, to bring kindness to children.
Finally Christmas is about giving. Many can argue
convincingly, that the exchange of gifts is a pagan ritual. The fact that we
will buy gifts under sufferance and out of a sense of duty lends weight to the
argument that there is no Christ in Christmas giving. It is timely to remember
that: "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not
reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver"
(2 Corinthians 9:7; NIV).
We must give cheerfully at Christmas. In so doing can we
emulate the great Gift we seek to honour. "For God so loved the world that
He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not
perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16, KJV). Did our Father
hesitate at anytime knowing full well that His Son would suffer rejection at
Bethlehem, be humiliated and then have His blood shed on the cross? Like Jesus,
"Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross..."
(Hebrews 12:2), our Father gave in anticipation of the happiness and freedom
which would bless the recipients of His Gift upon opening. He gave the only
possession that we don't have and really need. He did not give a thing, an
object - He gave Himself for our salvation. Only by opening the first Gift may
we truly comprehend the real significance of giving and receiving gifts.
A true Christian gift is sharing the love of Christ. You will
not find this gift in any store for it resides in the hearts of the saved. Do
not fall into a commercialised abyss this Christmas, but use the opportunity to
cheerfully share the love of Christ -– the perfect present for the person who
thinks they have everything.
Merry Christmas and may God's Blessings be with you all.