It might sound crazy for me to say what I am about to say to many, but I am going to say it anyway, in an ideal world, there would be no Christmas holiday.
Now, why would I or how could I possibly say such a thing?
I’ll tell you, on Christmas, as Christians, we remember Jesus Christ who is the “meaning of the season” and Christmas is about celebrating the incarnation of Jesus the Christ. So, we not only celebrate and remember the raw facts and circumstances of his birth (Matthew 1; Luke 2), but we remember and reflect on the meaning of his birth (John 1). Now, with the holiday of Christmas, we do this once a year and we try to get together with family, set aside differences, and get into the ‘spirit of giving.’
However, if we are indeed Christian, then what do we do for the remaining 364 days of the year? Do we forget about Jesus, why He came, what He came to do, and how we are called to live? The answer should be a resounding “No!,” however, the reality is that that is precisely what happens with the holiday of Christmas. I am not objecting to the behavior that Christians and frankly, most non-Christians, display around the holiday of Christmas, and I not objecting to some of the good things like being with family, setting aside differences, and the ‘spirit of giving.’ The thing is, when we as Christians limit how we are to behave all the time to one day of the year, we are really no different than the non-Christian world around us in which we live.
When we minimize the Good News of Jesus Christ to one day a year (perhaps 2 if you include Easter), we accommodate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our culture so much that we do not proclaim, reflect, and live by the Gospel the remaining 364 days. This means that we are Christians once or twice a year, but 364 or 363 days a year, we are not Christians at all. A Christian is someone who imitates Jesus Christ and being filled with the Good News of Jesus Christ (the Gospel) shares this news with others all the time.
For the Christian, instead of a season of giving or a spirit of giving, there is a lifestyle change marked by giving not only what one makes as income, but also what one already has to those in need every single day of the year or as frequently as one can. For the Christian, there isn’t the momentary grace shown to others for a season, but a lifetime of love shown to others even if hatred is shown in return. For the Christian, there isn’t a moment of spending time with family and trying make like all is well and you all spend lot’s of time together, but the Christian shows the love for the family year round and this goes beyond talking about football or sharing favorite Christmas cookies, but this is a love that penetrates the heart, that heals, that reconciles, that deeply moves, and truly cares. This is the love that takes the burdens of others upon yourself and makes them your own because as Christians, we are born anew through Jesus Christ who has done that very thing for us though on a far deeper level than we can fully comprehend with our sins.
Holidays, by nature, minimize the meaning and celebration of something to that one particular day they are celebrated on. Therefore, by creating Christian holidays you can have some wonderful things like the incarnation and the death/resurrection, but they are minimized to individual days as opposed to everyday. It’s more accepted to talk about peace and joy and hope and love around Christmas time than other times of the year. It’s more acceptable to say, “He is Risen!” around Easter, but not other times of year. It is more acceptable to sing Christmas carols about Jesus Christ being born around Christmas, but not during other times of the year.
Is Jesus being born continually every single year? Of course not! Jesus was born over 2000 years ago and is fully grown now and has been for nearly the same amount of time, and is living and residing in heaven at the right side of God the Father awaiting the time when He will return in glory to judge the living and the dead and bring about His complete peace and victory over evil. When we sing about the incarnation of Jesus in his birth, we remember the meaning of not only Christmas, but also the meaning of who Jesus is and what Jesus came to do. By limiting these carols to Christmas we think on who Jesus is and what Jesus came to do in more detail to only once a year.
Is it not good for Christians to dwell upon the meaning of the person of Jesus Christ and what Jesus came to do all the time? Not only around Christmas?
This is my point. Giving is good. Being with family is good. Helping others is good. Singing songs of worship and adoration to Christ the King is good. However, as Christians, we are not called to be exactly like the surrounding culture in which we live and not do these things regularly, but we are called to take on the identity of Jesus Christ as our own, becoming dead to ourselves, and living by faith in Jesus helping others, giving to all, worshipping and adoring Christ the King year round.
The Gospel is such Good News, and so amazing and wonderful, why limit it to merely a holiday? Why not speak openly of the person and work of Jesus all the time?
Most people love Christmas and what it represents and even the Christian elements around Christmas and despite many people’s critiques, most people love how Christians behave around Christmas as well. People don’t like seeing the bell ringers outside the grocery stores, but they are glad they are there and appreciate fully what they do. People like this mentality of giving, joy, peace, love, and helping others. Many people enjoy the carols as well about Jesus.
Part of the Good News, the Gospel, is that we don’t have to simply experience this time at Christmas or Easter, but we can act like this and experience this sort of peace, joy, love, and hope year round. If people are so moved by Christians in how they give around Christmas time, what would people do if they found that Christians were giving year round and not simply around Christmas time? Also, if they were giving not only to friends and family they know, but to people in their communities who really need help?
I believe more people would see that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is truly Good News, not for a season, or a day, or just for the after death experience alone, but for every day, to everyone, and to all the world. That’s a pretty BIG Gospel, but the true Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t just a holiday or a season of giving, hope, joy, but rather, it’s a lifetime of selfless giving full of hope that no matter what happens in this life and the world around us, there is still hope beyond the grace for those who believe and there are still those who are showing signs of this hope by living a life of faith, imitating Jesus, where they are in the world.
So, I said, in an ideal world there would be no Christmas holiday, why say that? How dare I! Well, I say it because in an ideal world, there would be peace, joy, love, hope, and giving all the time. For Christians, that ideal world will come fully when Christ returns and brings about the new heavens and new earth that is mentioned in Revelation 21. Though, part of the purpose of the church is to declare this new reality, this new hope, this Good News, this everlasting peace, to a world that is starving for it and doesn’t even know it. Part of the purpose of the church, meaning all Christians, is to show the world what this new world looks like, show the world what Jesus looks like. When the world looks and sees people who are selfish and hateful and care little for the needs of others, I think the world rejoices because they can justify their unbelief. However, when the world looks and sees one righteous person seeking to show the world what Jesus looks like in how they live their life bringing joy, peace, love, grace, and truth to others, the world is deeply troubled because for the moment, they have to confront and face up to their unbelief no matter how set they are in that unbelief.
My prayer is that Christians would seek to show the world what Jesus looks like not simply by pointing to a passage of Scripture, but bringing that Scripture to life in their lives by showing the world the love, joy, peace, and hope of Jesus Christ. Though, many are blind, deaf, and dumb to the things of God, mangy are watching, listening, and waiting for someone to show them that the story of Jesus Christ, that baby in a manger, is not simply a holiday tale or a nice little story, but it’s a reality that they need to really wrestle with, think on, commit themselves to believing, and living out.