Christmas Without Christ
By Namani J. Nharrel
December is here again. The 25th being the day Christians celebrate the birthday of Christ, the Saviour of the world.
Though some Christian groups and individuals are increasingly questioning if Christ was born on that day of the month, others have denounced it, as being pagan in origin. So the don’t celebrate it. Some say it doesn’t matter what day or month Christ was born. What matters, they say, is that He was born to save mankind from sin and restore humanity to a relationship with God.
If December 25 is chosen by whoever and it’s accepted by majority of Christians worldwide, then, it’s worth celebrating. This is the basis of this write up. However, its concern is that the celebration is done ‘without’ the celebrant in most instances.
The average Christian will say that Christmas is celebrated because it is the day Christ was born. Beyond that, many can hardly articulate convincing reasons for celebrating Christmas.
This is not to say the birth of Christ is not the reason. It is whether the person of Christ and the experienced purpose of His birth are the reasons for the celebration. Do those celebrating give a thought about what the birth of Christ means? Is the celebration done with a heart of gratitude for God’s love to mankind? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).
The Son of God was born into this world as a child. His birth was promised and prophesied long ago before He was born. He was born with a mission to save His people. His name, Jesus, announced that mission.
The Angel told Joseph what child Mary was going to deliver: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Jesus was born human to save humanity at the right time. “…when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
The reason people ought to celebrate Christmas, therefore, is to appreciate God’s love, which made Him give His son to save them from sin. We celebrate because Christ loved and came to rescue us from sin. We celebrate because we are now redeemed from the curse of sin, the effect of sin and the penalty of sin.
People should celebrate Christmas because they have experienced the reality of Christ and his work of salvation in their lives. His birth should always be linked to His death and resurrection.
It is no Christmas therefore, if it is not celebrated in appreciation of God’s love to the world. It is no Christmas if one is not celebrating because the Cross of Christ means much in his life.
In view of the reason for Christmas the answer to the question about who should celebrate is obvious. Some would think that those who are happy that Christ was born should celebrate Christmas. This is typical, but not entirely correct. This quote captures it better: “It is not happy people who are grateful. It is grateful people who are happy.” It is those who are grateful, appreciate and have appropriated God’s love through Christ that should celebrate Christmas.
They should celebrate because of the love of God they have experienced. They are saved from sin. They are restored to a relationship and fellowship with God their creator. They experience God’s mercy daily. They celebrate not only in one day, but every day; especially whenever they think of the benefits of Christ’s birth.
A story was told of a people celebrating an occasion. They ate, drank and rose to dance. A group of strangers came and joined in the dance – not because they knew or identified with the reason for the celebration. They had a mission.
While the dancing was going on, the strangers pulled out concealed guns, and began to shoot the people.
Christmas celebration has been infiltrated by strangers. Their mission – to destroy Christians spiritually. This is obvious, because what excites Christians at Christmas is not their concern. They do not know the Christ of Christmas. Their interest and mission is the havocs they visit on the cause of Christ and His Church. Though they claim to celebrate Christmas their activities run against all that Christ stands for.
At Christmas, they introduce unbiblical practices. At Christmas, they lure and compromise Christians into sin and disobedience to their Lord. At Christmas, those who hate the name of Christ, persecute His followers and hinder the spread of His gospel pretend to be friendly with Christians. They send goodwill messages and urge Christians to live in peace with their neighbours, as if Christians are known for breaching the peace. Even ungodly and corrupt political and religious leaders urge Christians to imbibe the spirit of Christ, as if they know who Christ is.
Let us boldly and confidently say that anyone celebrating Christmas without acknowledging the Lordship of Christ is a stranger to Him and has no reason to celebrate his birth. Such a person has no capacity to rejoice that Christ was born, without being saved.
Painfully, many of these strangers abound in the congregations of believers. No wonder, the havoc done to the Church of Christ which is manifested during Christmas is mainly from within it ranks and files.
Christmas in many communities is a time for committing great sins. In the name of one who was born lowly, strangers become pompous and showy. In the name of the one who was humble, strangers exhibit their pride. In celebrating the birth of one who detested sin and urged a life of righteousness, strangers commit all sorts of immorality and sin. In the name of one who described Himself as meek and lowly, strangers get drunk and unruly. In the name of one who abhors all forms of violence, strangers commit atrocities. They cheat, steal and destroy others to ‘celebrate’ Him. In the name of one who said God and Mammon cannot be worshipped together, strangers chose to perpetuate the worship of money in places meant to worship Him. In the name of Christmas, the church is losing its relevance and integrity by allowing strange and sharp practices creep in. At Christmas, people eat and drink and rise to dance to strange gods and exhibit various forms of shamelessness.
In the name of celebrating His birth, Christ, the celebrant is made to unhappily watch many strange things in wonder. He must be wondering how strangers celebrating Him by practicing all that He came to annul. He is wondering why strangers, and even some of His own, have chosen to devote time to mock Him.
It is mockery when people claim to celebrate a person, but gleefully make the person unhappy. It is understandable that non-Christian choose to mock Christ at Christmas. They have no stake in Him. But how can we explain Christians joining in this mockery? If unbelievers have a mission to destroy the Church at Christmas, what is the mission of some Christians making Christ unhappy at Christmas? It amounts to mocking Christ if anything is done, eaten, drank at Christmas without the thought of honouring Him. If He is the centre of Christmas, He ought to be given the first place in everything.
This writer is not against celebrating and making merry at Christmas. All we are saying is that Christmas without Christ is not of God. Christmas without knowing and acknowledging Jesus Christ as personal Saviour and Lord is not Christian. Christians rejoice and celebrate from a heart of gratitude for their salvation. They should also announce, “Joy to the world, the Saviour is come, and let earth receive her King…”
In all that we do before, during and after Christmas, this Biblical admonition should guide our choices: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:31-33 NIV).
A joyous Christmas to all Christians who choose to celebrate. To those who don’t, may the reason of Christ’s coming fill you with the joy of salvation now and always. And may all strangers to Him, find Him a loving Saviour and Lord over their lives this Christmas season, Amen.