Christmas and the Christian

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Grant Swart

As the years have passed, the “festive” or holiday season, which includes Christmas day, has become a commercialized farce, along with other similar secular celebrations such as Mothers Day and Valentines Day. The original meaning and “reason for the season” has been replaced with lavish parties, extreme festivities, entertainment and expensive gifts. No longer is it “the thought that counts”, rather the value of the gift which apparently demonstrates the level of affection one has for the recipient. Rarely is the birth of our Saviour brought into the picture on Christmas.

There is a war being waged on the traditional Christmas by the secular world, atheists, legalists and followers of false religions. “Merry Christmas” is being replaced with “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays”. This, of course, is being done in an attempt to promote a religiously tolerant society with the will, values and rights of man as the central focus. All the while, the battle for your bucks in the countdown of shopping days to Christmas rages on.

christmas dog 20

It was Santa Claus did it!

Back to the controversial issue among many Christians, which is the partaking or avoidance of Christmas celebrations. The debate as to whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas on December 25, or any other date for that matter, has been raging for centuries. There are sincere Christians on either side of the debate, and many reasons as to why or why not Christmas should be celebrated by Christians.

One argument against Christmas is that the traditions have origins in paganism. Another argument is that the Bible forbids Christmas trees, and the passage in Jeremiah 10:1-16 is cited as biblical disapproval, even though that passage has no relevance to Christmas or Christians. Some regard the fact that the Bible gives no indication as to the birth date of Jesus as reason enough not to celebrate the day on December 25.  Others, on the other hand, regard the fact that the Bible is silent on the issue as tacit approval by God over the celebration issue.  Some say that because the world celebrates Christmas, Christians should avoid it. And so, on and on the arguments pro- and anti-Christmas are cited.

As in all things we should prayerfully seek guidance over the matter of Christmas, particularly if it is a divisive issue for the Christian family. Also, pray for God’s mercy to fall on those who will not have a morsel of food, a drop of water or who will have to fight for their very life as children of God, on the day that the rest of the world goes shopping and tolerates undisciplined, screaming grandchildren demanding more expensive toys, while mommy pays little attention and excitedly types a message to her virtual friends on her cellphone while in the shopping mall.

christmas tree burning

Should someone stop the abuse of the Christmas tree?

Should Christians argue over the exact date of the birth of Jesus Christ? Should Christians ban Christmas trees and decorations from their lives, should they merely be tolerated, or maybe even embraced? What should the Christian’s attitude be toward those who make much of celebrating the most famous holiday in recorded history? Is Christmas to be regarded as solely a pagan institution and therefore to be avoided? Should we accept the fact that, although the origin might have been in numerous false religious traditions, due to the subject and focus of the Christmas day having shifted to a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, we should re-think our attitude toward the tradition?

Are there certain Christmas traditions which are acceptable, while others are taboo for the Christian? Or, should Christians pay no attention at all to the goings-on at that time of year and try to ignore the undeniable influence it has on everyone’s life? Should the church speak out  in opposition to the celebration of Christmas, or should the church quietly partake in it while bearing in mind that the day itself has no spiritual meaning above any other day? Is celebrating Christmas a decision which should be left to the individual?

What form should a church service take on Christmas day, and if it doesn’t happen to fall on a Sunday, should there be a special service held at all? What would be the appropriate message to be brought to the people gathered there?

 If Christians are to avoid taking any part in Christmas celebrations, then similarly should Christians not also avoid taking part in other celebratory days such as national independence celebrations, New Years day, Thanksgiving, birthdays, etc? As none of these celebrations are Biblical either, why should any of these celebrations be permitted? Does avoidance of these types of celebrations due to religious convictions, rather than because of Scriptural instruction, not amount to Pharisaical legalism and hypocritical self-righteousness?

Does Scripture prohibit the Christian from partaking in a secular celebration? Is Christmas a secular celebration? Is the Christian free to partake in these celebrations as long as they are not idolized?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             These represent but a few of the questions and concerns of some Christians at Christmas time. Here is, what I regard as a balanced, concise and wise view on the subject.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Corgi-Beach-Party

SHOULD CHRISTIANS OBSERVE CHRISTMAS?

             Without fail, at this time every year, I receive numerous letters, pamphlets, and tracts denouncing the evils of Christmas as a pagan religious holiday. I fully agree that no believer should ever observe pagan religious holidays like Christmas and Easter. We must never incorporate pagan customs into the worship of our God.

We must not observe any religious holiday. We should attach no spiritual, religious significance to any day. Yet, we do not need to act like super-pious religious idiots over a day that has absolutely no religious significance. I would never teach a child that such a thing as Santa Claus exist, or that Christ was born on Christmas day. But, as Paul said concerning idols, Santa Claus is nothing and Christmas is nothing. Did you know that every day of the week, every planet in the universe, and many of the cars we drive are named after pagan gods? Yet, we still call Sunday Sunday, Mars Mars, and a Saturn a Saturn. No one would ever dream of calling us pagans for doing so. We worship our God on Sunday, and would laugh at anyone who suggested that we observe the pagan Roman holiday called “Sun’s Day” in doing so. If your car is a Saturn, use it for the glory of God; and laugh at anyone who thinks that you are worshipping the Roman god of agriculture by driving it.

We must not, and I trust do not, worship Christmas trees and lights, or even attach spiritual significance to Christmas day. However, I do suggest that we seize this opportunity afforded us by Divine providence to tell people who Christ is, why he came into this world, what he did, and how they may obtain his salvation. It is no accident that once every year every human being in the world is confronted with the fact that the Son of God assumed human flesh and came into the world to save men.

Certainly, no one can think that it is wrong for believers, during this season of the year, to express thanks and praise to God for his unspeakable gift, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is never wrong, but always right to think of him, speak of him, and sing his praise. Rather than not singing Watts grand old hymn, Joy To The World, we ought to sing it year round.

While I loathe the religiosity of this holiday season, the silly plays, the idolatrous pictures and representations of Christ and the angels of God, and pretense of spirituality by people who have no interest in the glory of God, I am delighted for this season of the year (for any season) that brings families together, encourages kindness and good will, and promotes thoughtfulness of and generosity to others. It is perfectly all right to exchange gifts with and send cards to family and friends. (I cannot imagine a reason for anyone objecting to that!) But I suggest that each of us find a way to acknowledge and do something special for someone from whom we expect nothing, maybe even from someone from whom we expect abuse. “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

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With kind appreciation to Donald S Fortner for the use of the short article “Should Christians observe Christmas”  

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17 thoughts on “Christmas and the Christian

  1. I learned about the roots of this holiday many years ago and have gone through many changes in thinking. I do not personally decorate my house or really celebrate Christmas at all, like the world does. However I see it as a matter of conscience. I have facebook friends who talk and warn endlessly about it and will unfriend people over it!
    I agree with you, latch onto this time to point others towards the Savior coming into the world. When our whole focus is on warning of the evil of the holiday, we look like idiots to those in the world. I think we have more important issues at hand. We should not put all of our focus on something like this to the point of driving people away who might not understand why you keep harping on this. Spend the same amount of energy posting on how to get saved and live your life here for Jesus. I think this is an “in house” issue. I don’t think anyone is going to be eternally lost for having a Christmas decoration or joining their family for dinner on Christmas. I don’t think we are being evil to give a child a Christmas present, especially if it is a poor child. I think this can be a time when we show kindness to those who have very little in the world. Sure, we should do that all the time, but this season does provide some opportunities for sharing the love of God and pointing people towards a Savior that aren’t there year round..

    Who would condemn the Creation Museum and yet it has a Christmas Town. They know it draws people to it and gives them an opportunity to share about God and His creation.

    Our country itself is increasingly becoming pagan. Why not do like Paul did when he stood on Mars Hill and use the time to say something about seeing they celebrate the time of the birth of Christ, ask if they know anything really about the birth of Christ and why he came down on earth here. We could add that no one knows the real time of His birth and that really isn’t the important point we focus on. The point is that He did leave His place in Heaven and come down and dwell among us and show us the need of a Savior, that Savior that would lay down His life for lost sinners. Could we not do that instead of going bonkers over Christmas Trees and calling them idols with every breath? A tree is only an idol if you worship it in the same way as an idol. I really don’t know of anyone falling down and worshipping a tree or praying to a tree in the way idol worshippers do. I know of no one who asks trees for guidance and such. This may sound silly, but those are the things idol worshippers do, aren’t they? I think if we want to warn other believers about this, we should do it in private messages, not endless tirades that make us look crazy to a world that doesn’t want to listen to us in the first place. Turn the tables on the pagan and use it as a way to point others to Christ. That is just my opinion and I know many will not agree with me.

    • Elizabeth

      I fully agree with your thinking on the matter and thank you for your considered comment. May you have a wonderful Christmas season.

  2. Grant, I have read a plethora of articles on the pagan aspects of Christmas and Easter and whether the Christian should recognize these holidays and I must say this is one of the most thoughtful and well balanced articles I have read on this subject thus far. Thank You!

  3. Pingback: The Great Christmas Debate! | Stand Up for the Truth

  4. God wants us to honour the Sabbath day. There is a day that comes around weekly that God does want us to keep holy.

    • In response to: the typist
      Your statement is not true, it is not Biblical and it is not the Christian way. God certainly does NOT want us to honour any day! God wants us to honour Him alone.

      As sinners, we cannot make anything holy (such as a Sabbath day), neither can we keep it holy. To assume that we can please God by upholding a legalistic ritual or historical tradition is blatant will-worship, not Christianity.

      Jesus Christ is our Sabbath. Jesus Christ is our Holiness. Christians proclaim, worship, honour and glorify Jesus Christ, not a day of the week. Jesus Christ is ALL.

      • Read these and get back to me (Edited, link removed for now, as we need to investigate the link first, test and discern)

      • the typist,

        We will investigate the link 1st before placing it. One thing I did notice was all the images that claims to represent Jesus. That is already a concern. As far as the Sabbath goes, there is no NT commandment that says we are to do that And “WE DO NOT OBSERVE A LITERAL SABBATH DAY BECAUSE CHRIST IS OUR SABBATH, AND WE REST IN HIM.”

        Just btw are you SDA ?

        WHY NOT OBSERVE A
        LITERAL SABBATH?
        Colossians 2:16-17

        What is wrong with setting aside the first day of the week and requiring God’s saints to keep it as a sabbath to the Lord? We do not, and must not, observe the sabbath in a literal way for the very same reasons that we dare not observe the Jewish passover, or any other ceremonies of the law. The sabbath day which God required the Jews to keep was only a temporary, typical ordinance, which represented Christ and our redemption by him.
        WHEN GOD INSTITUTED THE SABBATH HE GAVE TWO REASONS, ONLY TWO, FOR HIS PEOPLE TO OBSERVE IT.

        The sabbath day was to be kept, first, as a symbol of God’s rest (Ex. 20:8-11). It represented the completion of God’s creation and the satisfaction of God with his work. Though God’s creation has been marred by the fall of man and the entrance of sin into the world, the sabbath portrayed a day of restitution in the end of time, when all things shall be restored to God (Acts. 3:21; Eph. 1:11; Col. 1:20). And, secondly, the sabbath day was a constant reminder of Israel’s redemption out of Egypt, which was a picture of our redemption by Christ (Deut. 5:15). The sabbath, like all other aspects of the Mosaic law, was a picture prophecy of our perfect redemption by Christ. As the Jews rested on the seventh day from all their works through the week, believers find perfect rest in the Lord Jesus Christ.

        WE DO NOT OBSERVE A LITERAL SABBATH DAY BECAUSE CHRIST IS OUR SABBATH, AND WE REST IN HIM.

        In the New Testament the sabbath day is frequently mentioned in connection with the Jews and Jewish worship in the temple, or in the synagogues. But it is only mentioned twice, after the Book of Acts, in the Epistles. And the two places where it is mentioned are very instructive. In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul forbids the observance of a legal sabbath day on the basis of the fact that in Christ we are entirely free from the law (Rom. 6:14; 7:4; 10:4). In Hebrews 4:3, 4, and 9 the Apostle tells us that all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ keep the sabbath in a spiritual way, truly keep the sabbath, by faith in him. Trusting Christ alone for our entire, eternal acceptance with God, we have ceased from our own works. We have quit trying to save ourselves by the works of the law. We rest in Christ. And our sabbath rest shall be brought into perfection when it is consummated by the grace of God in heaven’s eternal glory. Don Fortner

      • There is everything wrong with publishing lies and untruthful pictures of Christ.

        We are forbidden to have pictures, icons and other images of Christ or of the Father God. That much should be clear from various passages, including Ex 20:3-4, and Matt 6:1-8. To have pictures of Jesus is to violate the clear instruction of Scripture. Pictures of Christ, drawn by men, are the things of men. Artists, who have no idea of how He might have looked, create images of God which are abominable before a Holy God, who is to be worshipped in Spirit and in truth.

        If we are Christians our service and worship will be regulated by the Word of God. Those who produce or display images of Jesus, may mean well, but they are acting sinfully, as they are, at the very least, in contravention of the second commandment. It is also greatly disrespectful toward Christians to portray Christ in such an untrue and sinful way. You are free to practice any religion which takes your fancy, but please try not to do so at the expense of the Christians.

        In the early years of the church, Eusebius wrote: “Who can therefore counterfeit by dead and insensible colors, by vain shadowing painter’s art, the bright and shining glistering of such his glory? whereas his holy disciples were not able to behold the same in the mountain; who, therefore, falling on their faces, acknowledged they were not able to behold such a sight.”

        As there is no description of how Jesus looked in Scripture, or anywhere else for that matter, no picture drawn of Him is a truthful representation. The truth cannot be taught or conveyed by means of a lie. Would you be satisfied that a picture drawn of yourself, by someone who had never seen you or even had a description of how you looked, could be a truthful representation of how you actually look? Every picture which depicts Christ is a lie.

        Christ is more than man. He is God-man. It is impossible to depict by a painter’s brush or drawing, the almighty power of Christ; the glorious majesty of Christ; the infinite knowledge of Christ. You cannot localize by a painter’s brush the omnipresence of Christ. Such pictures can only succeed in degrading Christ. When one considers the deity of Christ it is no wonder that the apostles did not attempt a physical description of their Lord and Saviour.

        The Bible instructs the Church not to make any likeness of Christ. The present day pictures of Christ are false and no one would make a serious claim that they resemble Christ upon earth. They separate his humanity from his deity. All so-called pictures of Christ are a hindrance and a temptation to idolatry.

        What would be the reaction of a disciple, who had actually seen the Lord in the days of His flesh, to a portrait which would be the work of imagination on the part of one who had never seen the Saviour?

        “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” and an image could be a statue, picture, or imaginary likeness. Also Acts 17:29 tells us: “Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.”

        How do you justify the publication of images of Jesus Christ in the light of Deut 4:23? “Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you.”

        Here are the opinions of two others who explain why the publication of pictures of Jesus Christ are abominable.

        IMAGES OF CHRIST by James Durham

        And if it be said man’s soul cannot be painted, but his body may, and yet that picture representeth a man; I answer, it doth so, because he has but one nature, and what representeth that representeth the person; but it is not so with Christ: his Godhead is not a distinct part of the human nature, as the soul of man is (which is necessarily supposed in every living man), but a distinct nature, only united with the manhood in that one person, Christ, who has no fellow; therefore what representeth him must not represent a man only, but must represent Christ, Immanuel, God-man, otherwise it is not his image. Beside, there is no warrant for representing him in his manhood; nor any colourable possibility of it, but as men fancy; and shall that be called Christ’s portraiture? would that be called any other man’s portraiture which were drawn at men’s pleasure, without regard to the pattern? Again, there is no use of it; for either that image behooved to have but common estimation with other images, and that would wrong Christ, or a peculiar respect and reverence, and so it sinneth against the commandment that forbiddeth all religious reverence to images, but he being God and so the object of worship, we must either divide his natures, or say, that image or picture representeth not Christ. (From The Law Unsealed, or, A Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments.)

        PICTURES OF CHRIST by Loraine Boettner

        Closely akin to the use of images is that of pictures of Christ. And these, we are sorry to say, are often found in Protestant as well as Roman Catholic churches. But nowhere in the Bible, in either the Old or New Testament, is there a description of Christ’s physical features. No picture of Him was painted during His earthly ministry. The church had no pictures of Him during the first four centuries. The so-called pictures of Christ, like those of Mary and the saints, are merely the production of the artist’s imagination. . . . No picture can do justice to his personality, for he was not only human, but divine. And no picture can portray his deity. All such pictures are fatally defective. . . . For most people the so-called pictures of Christ are not an aid to worship but rather a hindrance, and for many they present a temptation to that very idolatry against which the Scriptures warn so clearly. (Excerpt from Roman Catholicism.)

      • We. Annual tasteful paintings of him. The Sunday church going day is worse and more of a lie. I have provided you information and links to read on the sabbath and you refuse to read them.

      • There can be no tasteful paintings of Christ, they are all abominations. The two subjects are unrelated. I have not refused to read your links. I have read them and many others which are similarly grossly false. I totally disagree with them, because they are not Scriptural.

      • “the typist”

        The information you have provided is false. The links you have provided offer false and unbiblical teaching. There is no longer a Sabbath day for those who are in Christ, whether it be Sunday or Saturday. As the Scriptures make clear, and as I have stated before, Christ is our Sabbath. In Him alone do we rest. I will certainly not debate the shortcomings of false religious beliefs with anyone, and neither will I advertise them on your behalf by publishing them.

    • A FEW MORE THOUGHTS ABOUT SABBATH KEEPING
      Colossians 2:16-17
      Here are six statements that need to be thoughtfully and prayerfully considered. Do not embrace them and do not reject them until you have at least thoughtfully considered them for yourself in the light of Holy Scripture alone.
      1. We observe the sabbath of faith, a spiritual sabbath rest in Christ. The Old Testament sabbath was a portrayal of faith in Christ. Like all legal ceremonies, it served no other purpose than to point sinners to Christ. As God ceased from his works on the first sabbath (Gen. 2:1-3), and demanded that the Jews cease from all works in the legal sabbath (Ex. 20:8-11), so sinners, when they trust Christ, cease trying to work their way into God’s favor (Matt. 11:28-30; Rom. 3:28; Heb. 4:10).
      2. We live in the hope and anticipation of a glorious, eternal sabbath rest with Christ. “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9, 11).
      3. We gather in the house of God and worship on the Lord’s day, and encourage all believers to do the same. Yet, we apply no sabbatical laws to the Lord’s day, and make no effort to coerce anyone to join us in the worship of our God, except by the coercion of the gospel.
      4. However, there is absolutely no sense in which we keep a legal sabbath day in this age of grace. Why are we so insistent and dogmatic about this? Because Christ, who is the Lord of the sabbath, is Christ our Sabbath. For us to go back to keeping a sabbath day, as the Jews did in the Old Testament, or for us to put on the yoke of legal religion, is to say that Christ fulfilled nothing! Legalism is, in its essence, a denial of Christ’s finished work as the sinner’s Substitute. That was the reason for Paul’s strong denunciation of Peter’s behavior at Antioch.
      5. Christ is the end of the law (Rom. 10:4). That statement by Paul means exactly what it appears on the surface to mean. It matters not whether you read it in Greek, English, Spanish, French, or Chinese. When the Holy Spirit says, “Christ is the end of the law,” he means for us to understand that our Lord Jesus Christ is…
      · The Fulfillment of the Law.
      · The Satisfaction of the Law.
      · The Purpose for which the Law was Given.
      · The Termination of the Law.
      If you can find me any place in human language where the word end does not mean end, I will eat my dictionary and my Bible too. If the law is fulfilled, satisfied, and its purpose accomplished in and by Christ, then it finds its termination in Christ.
      6. The New Testament expressly forbids sabbath observance by believers. Not only is there no instruction on how believers should keep the sabbath in this gospel age, the practice is specifically forbidden (Col. 2:16-17).
      Don Fortner

  5. Amen! Excellent response about the Sabbath! As a matter of fact, if you don’t mind, because I deal with this specific issue regularly, I’m going to make note of your response and use it next time I need it! I also greatly appreciated your articles on legalism btw.

  6. oops, I see I posted twice, I thought I lost the first one so I re-posted, you can delete one of them :)

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