By Gareth Brady
Well, here it is, you know, October, the time of year when everyone's commenting on how quickly the year has gone by and they just can't believe (even though it happens every year) just how fast the year has gone. It's also that time when we start to see all the Christmas marketing as businesses look to cash in on the gift giving and good cheer that surrounds this time of year. The 25th December is a date that most of us have grown up to love and cherish and celebrate. Most people look forward to Christmas and with Christmas flying towards us at a bout 24 hours a day it will soon be on most people's minds. The question is, if you are a Christian, someone who loves and follows Jesus, how do you celebrate Christmas, especially in light of the fact that... well he most likely wasn't born anywhere near the 25th December?
I ask this because some one at work asked me this question, "Do you still celebrate Christmas even though it is not really the date Jesus was born?"
It's a good question and one that needs some thought in answering especially when we consider how Christmas (Jesus birth) and Easter (Jesus death and resurrection) have been stripped of their meaning and message in our current times. So here goes...
Although no one knows the exact day he was born, the fact that he was born is part of history and an event that changed the world and countless lives including mine. So that's definitely worth celebrating.
I also believe that those who love, serve, honor, follow and worship Jesus have a responsibility to show others what Christmas is really about. Unfortunately for some people who don't know Jesus, Christmas has been turned into an opportunity to either get trashed, or just a day where we celebrate friends and family by giving things to each other that, although not bad in themselves, have no eternal value. Then there's also the "religious" people who don't know Him but use Christmas as an opportunity to appease their conscience and pay lip service to God by showing up at church for the first time maybe in years to sing a few songs, dress up nicely and put on a smiley face hoping that will gain them enough browny points with God for Him to carry on blessing them and let them into heaven when they die. This is all supposedly done in honor of the One who came to die for their sin, in their place to save them from sin, Satan, death and themselves and to give them true and eternal life.
So how do those of us that love and follow Jesus respond to all of this? I believe our response should be to love people by pointing them towards the grace of God in the historical fact of Christmas.
How do we do that? For those that see Christmas as a massive opportunity to get hammered. We love them by being with them and being a light to them by showing them that we don't need alcohol or any other substance to drown our sorrows in the false hope and joy that comes with being drunk because we have Jesus who is the very source of joy - real, deep-seated, everlasting joy and peace. Heaven is going to be one huge party...and we want those people to join us.
What about the people that think that Christmas is just a time to celebrate family, friends and community by giving them gifts that do nothing for our souls but rather just feed our already rampant materialism? We love them by giving them gifts, spending time with them and telling them about The ultimate Gift, Jesus, who does not perish, does not disappoint and supplies our every need. We show them that although family, friends and community are important, they are not ultimate....Jesus is. And the awesome thing is when we come to Christ and entrust our lives to Him, relationships and community are sweeter, deeper and enriched by His grace.
And the religious, the ones trying to earn favor with God? We welcome them with arms open. We invite them to church and to our homes. We preach the Gospel straight and true and then pray that the Holy Spirit would open their eyes to see the cross where Jesus took all their sin including their self-righteousness, payed for it in full so that now through faith in Him and his finished work, they can find favor with God, not through their own works but through Jesus work for them. After-all Jesus came to save the sinners from their sin and the religious people from their self-righteousness (which is a sin...called pride).
So yes we still celebrate Christmas. The date may be wrong, but Jesus was born, lived the perfect life that i could not, died a death that i deserved in my place for my sin, and rose from the grave to give me life that i could never earn and definitely do not deserve. If that's not worth celebrating and telling other people about, I don't what is.
How would you answer that question if someone asked you, and how do you celebrate Christmas?
Celebrating Jesus Not The DateWednesday, 12 October 2011 10:53
By Gareth Brady