You Can Tell It Is Christmas…

While some folks want to argue about Christmas, most of us just want to enjoy it:

It is happening again: it is the day after Christmas, and I find myself writing once more on this topic, instead of simply enjoying it! This is because some believers seem to think we are sub-par Christians – or worse – for daring to celebrate the birth of the Messiah. These folks can roughly be put into several camps (that sometimes overlap):

-One is the nonsensical ‘Christmas is pagan’ mob, pushed by zealots who usually know nothing about history or theology (or common sense). They seem to relish in their ignorance and inability to think straight. You usually cannot reason with such folks, and it is often not worth trying to.

-Another group consists of out and out Pharisees and religious “purists” who have a holier-than-thou attitude, condemning everyone who dares to take a different stance on this. Of course Jesus had the harshest of words for the Pharisees, and so should we. They need to repent of their ugly and diabolical attitudes and ask God for a bit of grace and humility.

-And another group can be the ‘my religious tradition does not approve,’ outfit. Their particular theological or ecclesiastical heritage does not, or did not, approve, so they will stick with that, no matter what. That is fine, but I am not beholden to, nor bound by, these particular traditions and pet peeves. I will stick with Christ and Scripture on these matters, and not be enslaved to any one Christian camp or tradition here.

We find some of these folks making a stink every year at this time. While most of us just want to enjoy Christmas and celebrate the birth of our Lord, some of these folks just want to argue. My short reply to them is this: if you so dislike Christmas and don’t want to celebrate it, fine – don’t. But stop attacking and hating on us who do.

I have already penned a number of articles on this, and in them I have said most of what I want to say on the matter. Those who really want to see why I reject their anti-Christmas agendas should carefully read these pieces:

There would be various biblical passages one can appeal to here. Here are just two of them. I would think these alone should put to rest those who want to condemn others for enjoying Christmas. The first is Romans 14:1-12:

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
    and every tongue shall confess to God.”

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

The second passage is Colossians 2:16-23:

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

What part of ‘do not judge your brother’ do these folks not get?

But let me close with quotes from two sermons on Christmas given by the great English preacher Charles Spurgeon. In the first, “The Great Birthday,” delivered on December 24, 1876, he reminds us that we of course do not know exactly when Jesus was born:

“There is no reason upon earth beyond that of ecclesiastical custom why the 25th of December should be regarded as the birthday of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ any more than any other day from the first of January to the last day of the year…”

He closes with these words:

You may keep His birthday all the year round, for it were better to say He was born every day of the year than on any one, for truly in a spiritual sense He is born every day of every year in some men’s hearts! And that, to us, is a far weightier point than the observation of holy days! Express your joy, first, as the angels did, by public ministry. Some of us are called to speak to the many. Let us, in the clearest and most earnest tones proclaim the Savior and His power to rescue man. Others of you cannot preach, but you can sing. Sing, then, your anthems and praise God with all your hearts! Do not be slack in the devout use of your tongues, which are the glory of your frames, but again and again and again lift up your joyful hymns unto the new-born King! Others of you can neither preach nor sing. Well, then, you must do what the shepherds did, and what did they do? You are told twice that they spread the news. As soon as they had seen the Babe, they made known abroad the saying that was told them, and as they went home they glorified God. This is one of the most practical ways of showing your joy. Holy conversation is as acceptable as sermons and anthems! There was also one who said little, but thought the more—‘Mary pondered all these things in her heart.’ Quiet, happy spirit, weigh in your heart the grand Truth of God that Jesus was born at Bethlehem. Immanuel, God with us— weigh it if you can! Look at it again and again! Examine the varied facets of this priceless brilliant diamond and bless, and adore and love and wonder, and yet adore again this matchless miracle of love! Lastly, go and do good to others. Like the wise men, bring your offerings and offer to the newborn King your heart’s best gold of love, frankincense of praise and myrrh of penitence. Bring everything of your heart’s best and something of your substance, also, for this is a day of good tidings and it were unseemly to appear before the Lord empty. Come and worship God manifest in the flesh and be filled with His light and sweetness by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The next is a terrific sermon he preached on December 24, 1854, called, “A Visit to Bethlehem.” Early on he says this:

I propose now to make A VISIT TO BETHLEHEM, and I want five companions to render the visit instructive; so I would have, first, an aged Jew; next, an ancient Gentile; then, a convinced sinner; then, a young believer; and, last of all, an advanced Christian. Their remarks can scarcely fail to please and profit us. Afterwards, I should like to take a whole family to the manger, let them all look at the Divine Infant, and hear what each one has to say about him.

In his final section on the family visiting Bethlehem, he has this wonderful passage:

Well now, I have been picturing to myself the manger, the Baby that lay in it, and Mary his mother watching lovingly over him; and I’ll tell you what I thought. Those little hands will one day grasp the sceptre of universal empire; those little arms will one day grapple with the monster ‘Death’, and destroy it; those little feet shall tread on the serpent’s neck, and crush that old deceiver’s head; yea, and that little tongue, which hath not yet learned to articulate a word, shall, ere long, pour from his sweet lips such streams of eloquence as shall fertilize the minds of the whole human race, and infuse his teaching into the literature of the world; and again a little while, and that tongue shall pronounce the judgments of heaven on the destinies of all mankind. We have all thought it wonderful that the God of glory should stoop so low; but we shall one day think it more wonderful that the Man of sorrows should be exalted so high. Earth could find no place too base for him; heaven will scarcely find a place lofty enough for him.

That is likely my favourite quote by Spurgeon on this topic. Merry Christmas everyone.

[1717 words]

One Reply to “You Can Tell It Is Christmas…”

  1. Thanks Bill for this accurate history on the dating of Christmas. I’ve found that some non-Christians also want to argue about dating and who may have set Dec. 25th. Therefore they want to cast doubt on the fact of the birth of Jesus Himself.
    You and family were in my prayers prior to Christmas as you faced your first one without your dear wife.

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