I do not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. Some may ask why, and some may even be offended that I do not. They may want to know why a preacher who loves the Lord and who is responsible for preaching the truth about Jesus and the gospel every week would not celebrate the birth of Jesus with the rest of the world on December 25th.
While we could spend some time in history examining how Jesus’ birthday was not celebrated until the fourth century, or about how the pagan sun gods were already being worshiped on December 25th (hence the assigned date), let’s refrain from a lengthy discussion. Any scriptural investigation would argue against a December date for the birth of the Savior. Evidence from the timing of the birth of John (the immerser) and the service of Zaccharias in the temple (John’s father), coupled with the 6 month difference in the births of John and Jesus argues for a September birth date. We could include facts about the census and the shepherds’ outdoor care for their sheep and quickly understand Jesus was not born during winter. But the December 25th assignment for the birth of Jesus has nothing to do with why I do not celebrate it as a religious observance.
When Paul by inspiration wrote to the Romans, he addressed liberty in Christ in chapter 14. Some Jews observed days of past Judaism and those days were significant to them because of their heritage (Rom. 14:6). These days were of no significance to the Gentiles, who had their own traditions. In this same text Paul also deals with the eating of meats, and the possibility that doing so in the church might be offensive to others. There were meats that had been sacrificed to the pagan gods. There were also Jewish traditions regarding certain foods. While meat to the Christian is nothing more than meat, for some early Jewish converts to Christianity it was a matter of conscience. In the church, all of the sudden Jews and Gentiles were thrust together into a spiritual family and they were trying to figure out what to do with the Law of Moses, pagan culture, and a life that was once alienated from God by the world and its practices.
Take note of part of Paul’s conclusion in Romans 14:23 – “Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.” This passage is not saying that we can do whatever we approve. It does say that we should be acting according to faith. When we do not act according to faith, when we practice something that is not according to God’s divine instruction, we are sinning against God.
“Now faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Since faith begins and ends with understanding God’s word, believing it, and obeying it, faith is not subjective. It is not open to the whims and wishes of the individual. I do not celebrate Christmas as a holy day because God’s word has not commanded me to observe it as such. It is not a matter of the Christian faith. Christmas, contrary to popular belief, is not a holy day in the mind of God. It is a day mankind has accepted to remember the birth of Jesus.
I am thankful that there is a time in our struggling society when the majority of the world has chosen to recognize the birth of Jesus. While there are constant attacks against Christianity, and efforts never end to remove God from the 21st Century world, it is great to know some things will not be taken from us. If a person chooses to think about the birth of Christ on December 25th, and thank God for sending Jesus to this sinful earth that desperately needed a Savior, what greater thing could one consider?
But let us keep this in mind: God wants us to remember Jesus every day. Not just His birth, but also His life, His death, His burial, and His resurrection. He wants us to remember that Jesus is now sitting at His right hand to make intercession for us. He wants us to make Him Lord of our life. He wants us to understand He is coming a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. And when he comes on that Day, He will judge the world in righteousness.
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” – Isaiah 9:6-7