Christmas! What is it? A Christian celebration, or, a secular holiday of pagan roots? The answer is in the question… “where is Jesus in it?” Surely, you cannot celebrate Jesus, if Jesus is not the reason for the celebration… (right?), writes Apostle George E. Markakis in this Christmas reflection.
Evi & George MarkakisBut if Jesus is not part of the secular Christmas equation, can we still bring Him in? Can Jesus be the center and the reason we celebrate Christmas?
Many celebrate because of a religious tradition that started when the Roman Empire was Christianised; no faith involved, and no particular interest in Jesus.
But if Christmas is not about the Lord and the Savior, if Christmas is a celebration that bears no connection to repentance for salvation and submission to the Lordship of Jesus for eternal life, then... is it really about Jesus?
That is why many regard Christmas as non-biblical, non-spiritual and some consider the worldly celebrations as totally anti-Christ. This rational includes the fact that Christmas was never celebrated by the early Church and the disciples of Jesus.
When you look at the ingredients that make up "Christmas", there is only some reference to Jesus as a baby, but what you are really looking at, is a holiday of pagan origins and associations with the occult (i.e. the Astarte/Ishtar tree, the elves-demons, the “santa” spirit of the world, the timing of ancient pagan religions worshipping on winter solstice).
But to be realistic, no matter which of the two sides we take, the fact remains that millions of people have a yearly opportunity to remember there is such a person as Jesus who was born to this earth. And that is an opportunity to declare the Christ who came to the earth to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10); of whom John the Baptist said:
John 1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ”
16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
If it were not for Christmas many would not know about Jesus, the Son of God who came to the world to give Life and Light to those who receive Him.
So can it be that Christmas may be a powerful means of evangelism that we should take advantage of, and use to spread the Gospel?
Even so, there is a problem with the timing... The truth is that the birth of Jesus most likely did not take place on Dec. 25. That is because the shepherds were still out in the fields in the night (Luke 2:8).
Moreover, Caesar Augustus would not have called for the census in the winter, as everyone had to travel to their own city (Luke 2:3). The census would have taken place during a season that weather permitted travel, while being a season that would not disrupt summer harvest; it would probably be in the autumn or spring.
So winter solstice around December 21 to 25 was most likely NOT when Jesus was born. It is also probably NOT a coincidence that several ancient pagan religions had had major celebrations on the timing of the winter solstice.
In the era that the Roman Empire was trying to Christianise its citizens, it was much easier to do so by re-naming their pagan winter-solstice celebrations as “Christian”, than trying to abolish ancient folk traditions with occult powers.
Probably “Christmas” is a bit of both:
--> a pagan holiday that is full of the spirit of the world, with occult symbols and associations, that causes even the believing Christians to lose focus from who Jesus is today and what is the Kingdom work to which He has called us. During Christmas there is a tendency of carnality to grow at the expense of faith, and prayer to diminish.
At the same time... Christmas is
--> an opportunity to spread the Good News of Salvation through Jesus, the Christ of God, the Light of the world who came to offer salvation from Death and eternal Life to all who believe and follow Him!
On the one hand the Bible neither informs us of the date of the birth of Jesus, nor encourages the celebration of His birth in the flesh. But on the other hand we still have the opportunity of this widespread celebration to:
--> turn the eyes of the world to Jesus the Light of the world that gives Life, and,
--> turn the eyes of those of us who believe in Him to worship our Lord and King!
John 1:2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Frankly? I much rather prefer to have Christmas even as a secular holiday than not at all! Can we imagine our western secular societies totally void of any Christian witness, and no reference to Jesus, even as a baby?
Can we imagine our children growing up in a world where mainly the Muslims celebrate their religious holidays, and Christianity does not exist in public life?
That would be terrible, and that would be wrong! Christmas is actually the spearhead we have in western secular societies to provide a Christian identity to many who belong to the silent majority of having some faith in God, while they are not ready to commit to a Church life of faith and prayer.
There is indeed a lot of occult garbage associated with Christmas, but can it be that our prayers and sharing of the Gospel might cause Christmas to be more Jesus-centered, and become a truly Christian holiday? If Jesus is not the reason for the season, let us bring Him into it!
Let Jesus be the center, the focus, the reason!
Let Christmas be (as in 'become') a powerful celebration of the Son of God!
Let us no longer say just "Merry Christmas" - but let us do as the shepherds did - Let us announce to everyone what we know about Jesus!
Luke 2:15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But what was that saying? and who spoke it to them?
Luke 2:9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 “And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace in people with whom He is pleased (or, people of His goodwill)!”
MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all! Jesus the Savior was born, who is Christ, the Lord! Glory to God in the highest!