I don’t know about you, but I have been thinking a lot about Christmas and what is has meant to me in the past and what it means to me now. Up until the last 3 or 4 years, I never really gave it much thought. I would simply go along with what has been implanted in me since as far back as I can remember. I would exchange the obligatory greetings, salutations, gifts, cards etc., without ever a thought about my intentions, or if what I was doing really had any meaning, worth while meaning that is. In fact, it was when I was trying to defend the observance of Christmas to a Jehovah Witness once, I realized that I did not have much to say about it. Nothing meaningful anyway, certainly nothing to justify my actions and beliefs. It was then that I started to realize that my Christmas had nothing to do with Christ.
Presently, I am of a mind that God tells us how to worship Him. Just thinking back to the exodus and the subsequent wanderings in the desert, God repeatedly spelled out what was required and, repeatedly, His people would try to worship Him in their own ways. I suppose that this goes back to Cain and his offering. So when I think of the origins of what we celebrate as “Christmas”, I can’t help thinking that we have compromised with the ways of man, once again, and have ignored God’s instruction. Sure, people will say that they keep their focus on Christ thoughout the season and, after all, isn’t giving the Christian thing to do. For their sake, I hope that they are sincere. One of my pet peeves is when people, including Christians, say that it is all about the children. Another is that they will say that they want people to get back to what Christmas is all about. When asked what Christmas is all about, the ususal response is that people should be more loving, understanding and peaceful. When asked about where Christ fits into all this, they have no particular response. I really do understand what they are saying and what they are experiencing as I used to just follow along too. I was just caught up in the practice of the observance and thought that it was the right thing to do.
Verses of scripture that come to mind;
“Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” Deut. 12:32
He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: “This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. Mark 7:6,7
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. Col. 2:6-10
The following are some thoughts of a couple of individuals from our past. I thought that they have done a better job than me. At the very least, I hope I have provoked some thought about this matter.
The traditions of men…
The following excerpt is from C. H. Spurgeon’s
Treasury of David, on Psalm 81, verse 4–
For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of
Jacob. It was a precept binding upon all the tribes that a sacred
season should be set apart to commemorate the Lord’s mercy; and
truly it was but the Lord’s due, he had a right and a claim to
such special homage.
When it can be proved that the observance of Christmas,
Whitsuntide, and other Popish festivals was ever instituted by
a divine statute, we also will attend to them, but not till then.
It is as much our duty to reject the traditions of men, as to
observe the ordinances of the Lord. We ask concerning every rite
and rubric, “Is this a law of the God of Jacob?” and if it be not
clearly so, it is of no authority with us, who walk in Christian
Superstitious regard for times and seasons?
(Spurgeon, “Joy Born at Bethlehem” December 24, 1871)
We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons.
Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical
arrangement called Christmas. First, because we do not
believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be
said or sung in Latin or in English. And, secondly, because
we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any
day as the birthday of the Savior; and, consequently, its
observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority.
Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Savior’s
birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it
occurred. Probably the fact is that the ‘holy days’ were
arranged to fit in with heathen festivals. We venture to
assert, that if there be any day in the year, of which we
may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the
Savior was born, it is the twenty fifth of December.
There are those who, on December 25th, will pretend to
exhibit joy in the remembrance of our Savior’s birth, but they
will not seek their pleasure in the Savior. Joy in Immanuel
would be a poor sort of mirth to them. In this country,
too often, if one were unaware of the name, one might
believe the Christmas festival to be a feast of Bacchus,
certainly not a commemoration of the Divine birth.
Since it is lawful, and even laudable, to meditate upon
the incarnation of the Lord upon any day in the year, it
cannot be in the power of other men’s superstitions to
render such a meditation improper for today. Regarding
not the day, let us, nevertheless, give God thanks for
the gift of his dear Son.
By Arthur Pink
Christmas is coming! Quite so; but what is “Christmas”?
Does not the very term itself denote its source– “Christ-mass.”
Thus it is of Romish origin, brought over from Paganism.
But, says someone, Christmas is the time when we commemorate
the Savior’s birth. It is? And who authorized such commemoration?
Certainly God did not. The Redeemer bade His disciples “remember”
Him in His death, but there is not a word in Scripture, from
Genesis to Revelation, which tells us to celebrate His birth…