A blog about everything about teaching the Bible. "And still I will show you a more excellent way..." (1 Corinthians 12:31).

Monday, December 5, 2011

Should We Put the "Christ" Back in Christmas?

A Facebook friend sent me this question and I thought it worthy of a blog post today. Here it is:

“It's regarding fact that the church of Christ does not celebrate Christ's birth--but that there is no problem if people celebrate the season at home, etc. Some of our faith have said it should be only a secular Holiday. If that's so, why do some church of Christ members get offended when they believe someone has "taken Christ out of Christmas." If we believe it’s "only a secular celebration," haven't we already taken Christ out of Christmas? I don't think we can have it both ways. If we believe Christ should be in Christmas, there should be some recognition of it in the church. If there's no recognition of it in the church, it seems we, ourselves, have taken Christ out of Christmas.”

Here’s my answer:

The reason for the disagreements you've encountered is simply that not all of us see Christmas (and holidays in general for that matter) the same way. There are two extremes among us.

I think extreme 1 has deeper roots. It’s the assertion that since there’s no biblical authority for celebrating religious holidays, Christians should not celebrate them. With regard to this view, it’s correct to say the Bible doesn’t command Christians to celebrate any religious holidays (every day is equally a holy day to Christians), but it's incorrect to say the Bible forbids Christians to celebrate them in every case. Romans 14 teaches some Christians observe a day as holy above others and are accepted by God. A note of warning: Galatians 4:10-11 warns Christians who "observe days, months, and seasons" may be in a state of fleshly misunderstanding about what holiness really is.

Extreme 2 is more common these days. It’s the belief that celebrating religious holidays (such as Christmas, Easter. etc.) is central to Christian faith. Those who hold to this extreme say things like, "Put the Christ back in Christmas." Truth is, Christ never put himself in Christmas. Roman Catholicism did. Christians, Protestants, and other non-Roman-Catholics could just as well say "put the 'mass' (Roman catholic communion ceremony) back in Christmas" as to say “put the ‘Christ’ back” in it. That said, no wise Christian would ever say it’s a bad thing that lots of people are thinking about Jesus this time of year. It’s not wrong by any stretch to preach or teach about the birth of Christ on December 25th or about the Resurrection on Easter Sunday!

The Biblical truth of the matter is God doesn't accept us or reject us based on whether we decide to celebrate something on a particular day or not. He's concerned with what is in our hearts whether we choose to observe a day above another, or every day alike (Romans 14:5-6). This is a matter for individuals to decide ("each one").

If we believe there are days more holy than others and times we feel we ought to act more holy than at other times, the opposite is also true. This is a major error and certainly part of why Paul wrote what he wrote in the Galatians passage cited above. Even though God accepts the good intentions of those who believe one day is holier than another, those who realize all days are equally holy to the Lord are correct.

That said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating Christmas, or any other holiday for that matter, to the Lord, and much good has come from the celebration of Christmas.