“Celebrate annually the coming of Christ. Make it a time of beauty, family, and tradition. Put up lights and a tree. Watch many movies. Be happy every day of the season. In so doing, you will glorify the Lord.” – not in the Bible!
The Bible never says to celebrate Christmas. In fact, Scripture warns us that some:
“for the sake of your tradition (you have) made void the word of God” Matthew 15:6
In another verse, the Bible references ‘hollow traditions.’
How many of those do we have? Christmas is full of traditions that have very little to do with God. Few of us can connect Christmas trees to Christ. Fewer the concept of decorating gingerbread houses or dressing up in fancy outfits to attend parties blaring music about Rudolph and Santa.
Does that mean that celebrating Christmas is unbiblical?
Whether or not the celebration of Christmas is biblical has a lot to do with how we celebrate –and even more to do with what’s in our hearts. Some of the main hallmarks of traditional Christmases are indeed Biblical, but we must be careful.
The spirit of giving
“God loves a cheerful giver” 2 Corinthians 9:7
Gifts are one of the first things that most people think of when they think of Christmas. In Scripture, we find the ultimate example of giving. Christ, in coming to save us, gave Himself up for us. God, in sending Christ, gave His only son to save us.
All throughout Scripture we find examples of giving. God gives good gifts. Christ gives peace and joy. We are encouraged to give with the understanding that all that we are and all that we have is Christ’s. It’s a joy to give of His plenty and in His love!
The risk: For many, Christmas gifts are about getting. For many others, gifts are stressful, accompanied by the frustration of selection and people-pleasing. Over-spending also undermines the cheerful part of what makes this part of Christmas at all Biblical.
The celebration of Christ’s coming
“Celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness” Psalm 145:7
Christmas, when it comes down to it, is a celebration of Christ’s coming! This whole huge time of festivity and adornment and gathering is in His name. It is to be a time of praising Him and beholding in wonder all that He has done, is doing, and will do.
Some of us praise Him with lights that shine like He does. Others by baking cookies as sweet as His kindness. Yet how many of us make any connection between these joyful traditions and the joy of our Savior?
The risk: Christ often gets only an “honorable mention” around the massive celebration of His birth. Much of the celebrating- many decorations, traditions, songs, etc., have nothing to do with Him.
While it’s not wrong to enjoy the season and things of the world, we must be careful not to miss the point. That means prioritizing accordingly and not putting awe of the world’s offerings above our awe of the Lord.
The gathering of loved ones
“Love one another with brotherly affection” Romans 12:10
The true Gospel of Scripture is as personal as it is shared. We are all the same to Christ, and we are all precious to Christ. There is no division in the body of Christ, but the unity of love. Christmas is also a time of gathering with loved ones to praise Him with those in the body and point those who are not to the One eager to welcome them with open arms.
The risk: All too many a Christmas gathering is obligatory and exclusive. Many of us take the social aspect of Christmas for granted, settling for fun and comfortable. We neglect to realize the significance of sharing His love with those who are familiar and unfamiliar.