November 29, 2010 by Stacy McDonald

Christmas: A High Impact Influence

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Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

“And the nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.” (Ezekiel 36:23)

As children of God, our greatest goal should be that our Father’s name is hallowed in us before the eyes of the world. “Glorify God and enjoy Him forever!” One of the amazing things that happens when a country is “Christianized” is that its culture begins to reflect biblical principles, even among the heathen in their midst.

Some feminists complain that biblical teachings oppress women; but, Christianity is exactly what frees us from oppression. Read The Real Women’s Liberation Movement. Christian culture demands that women and children be protected and treated with value and dignity.

Historically, when a heathen nation is overcome by the Gospel, distinct changes inevitably take place in the culture. For instance, the coming of Christ provided the world with a more complete and beautiful picture of marriage. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)

“By rejecting polygamy, adultery, fornication, public nudity, and the artistic portrayal of sexual acts, either openly on stage or graphically portrayed on household items, the Christians instituted an entirely new sexual morality. As secular historian Edward Gibbon declared: ‘The dignity of marriage was restored by the Christians.’” Dr. Peter Hammond

As Christians, our presence should impact the culture around us. We mustn’t hide from the culture; we are to confront it—transform it by the power of Jesus in us. Living our lives to the glory of God burns a bright and conspicuous light in a dark and hollow world.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Recently, I heard a beautiful version of O Holy Night, sung by the secular group, “Straight No Chaser.” What struck me was the fact that a group of secular singers was doing a beautiful job of proclaiming the miracle of the incarnation of Christ!

Long lay the world
in sin and error pining.
Till he appeared
And the soul felt its worth.

This group’s Christmas CDs, Holiday Cheers and Holiday Spirits, contain both secular and spiritual songs and have been wildly popular on the secular market. They have appeared on the Today show, ABC World News Tonight, and CNN Headline News, to name a few. Because of the influence of Christianity on society, those who don’t worship our God, are willing to enjoy, and even join us unaware, in proclaiming the story of the coming of our King. His story is being told. For this we should rejoice!

I realize some well-meaning Christians are opposed to the celebration of Christ’s birth. I can appreciate many of their reasons and agree with some of them. The worldliness, the materialism, the “cheapening” of the original purpose for the celebration is enough to earn a hearty, “Bah Humbug” from any Christian.

Others demonize the day by pointing out the “heathen” origins of Christmas (while continuing to use their pagan calendars).

Still other Christians believe that celebrating Christmas is a violation of the Regulative Principle of Worship. Some make the point that many of the Protestant Reformers rejected the idea of recognizing “special days” on the church calendar.

However, when we celebrate Christmas, we are not recognizing a special day on the calendar, as if it were holy or biblically set apart. We are simply setting aside an occasion of remembrance—a time when we recall the miracle of the incarnation and teach it to our children. The day itself is not special, but the day we’re remembering is glorious—the day when God became flesh and dwelt among us!

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees!

Oh, hear the angel voices!

Oh night, divine!

Oh night when Christ was born.

We “remember” the birthdays of those whom we love. We also “remember” Thanksgiving and other historical events in order to keep our children and the world from “forgetting.”

As a family, we use the advent candle during our family worship time. It is a great way to teach the children and pull them into the Scriptures. Though these are not commands of God, there are examples in Scripture where God told His people to use tangible means to teach future generations:

“That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What mean ye by these stones?’ Then ye shall answer them, ‘That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.’” (Joshua 4:5-7)

Consider the words from the hymn God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen…

From God, our heavenly father,
A blessed angel came.

And unto certain shepherds,
Brought tidings of the same.
How that in Bethlehem was born,
The son of God by name.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

Remember Christ our savior
was born on Christmas day.
To save us all from Satan’s power
when we were gone astray.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy…

At what other time of year do even the lost proclaim aloud Christ’s purpose for coming? What a wonderful opportunity God has given us. While emotions are stirred, hearts are tender, and “family” once again becomes important to many, we are able to speak and sew into the lives of those who may normally be opposed to the Truths of Scripture.

Consider the words of Sweet Little Jesus Boy

[We] Didn’t know you’d come to save us Lord
To take our sins away
Our eyes were blind,
We could not see

We didn’t know who you were.

It’s amazing to hear these words sung by those whose eyes are still blinded.

“In every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice…” (Philippians 1:18)

Pray with me today that God would open the eyes of those who sing these songs in ignorance. Pray that he who memorizes the notes and practices the harmony to such carols this year would indeed come to know You as Lord and Savior!

And if you really want to see an external picture of the internal influence Christians can have in this world! Watch this and weep! (Yes, I know I already posted it earlier, but I couldn’t resist!)



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23 Responses to “Christmas: A High Impact Influence”

  1. Lizzie says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. My sentiments exactly:)!

  2. Bethany says:

    Glad to hear this opinion. I am discouraged by how often Christians scorn all celebration of Christmas for one reason or another. It’s personally my favorite holiday, possibly because I am more or less unaffected by the commercialization of the whole thing.

  3. victoria says:

    I’ve heard the objections to Christmas too, but at what other time of year could you send a card to an unbeliever, with a gospel message on the front, and have them display it on their fire place mantle or coffee table? My prayer is that they read it and come to know the Lord.
    Thank you for your well-written post.

    Victoria

  4. ladyscott says:

    I read comments below one of the flash mob hallelujah videos on youtube, and I was amazed at the number of non-believers who found this offensive because it’s a religious song. Only secular Christmas songs are allowed in many public schools now, even though they often “even the field” by teaching the children other songs for other religions who celebrate their days in December, too.

    I am also amazed at how so many non-believing singers and sing such words and not even know what they’re singing, what the words truly mean!

  5. Deanna says:

    Yes, Stacy! This is how I feel about Christmas as well!

    The flash mob “Hallelujah Chorus” gives me chills and thrills me to hear Christ glorified!

  6. Denise says:

    Did Elijah offer his sacrifice to God on the altar built by the prophets of Baal? If we are so zealous for God’s glory, why can’t we choose a day of remembrance that doesn’t coincide with the winter solstice and be separated unto the gospel?

    Matthew 7:21
    Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

    Do we rejoice that so many heathens become modern day Pharisees for a season, honoring God with their lips and not with their hearts? Are we modeling true Christianity to the world when we join in and try to Christianize secular celebrations?

  7. Dana Renda says:

    Beautifully stated. I also find that the Advent Calendar along with our Advent Wreath is a nice way to engage our children in the teachings of our Lord. It’s colorful and if you hand make them you can include the scriptures. We always try and stress that Christmas is not about the presents, it’s truly about Christ. I try and explain that Christ is the reason we have CHRISTmas. Both of my children love the story of the Baby Jesus birth. However, my daugther is about to turn eight and has more indepth questions. I find that their Children’s Bible is the best reference.
    As usual, thank you for your wonderful words.

    Blessings
    Dana

  8. Stacy McDonald says:

    Denise- What a wonderful way to destroy the work of the enemy by celebrating the victory of Jesus over the paganism of the winter solstice (which actually is not December 25).

  9. Renee Stam says:

    I think there is a way to celebrate Christmas, proclaiming Christ birth and have fellowship and family gathering and setting ourselves apart from the worldly value of materialism etc… I enjoyed this post!thanks for the video’s they were great!!!

  10. Lori Devine says:

    Great post! I hope you don’t mind that I shared a link to it on my blog. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Steve says:

    Denise is correct. The Bible condemns the mixing of true worship to God with pagan rituals. That was one of the reasons for the destruction of the profained first temple. Though I use pagan calandars for time organization, I don’t worship pagan calandars. Though I use the wood from trees to build and plant trees in my yard, i don’t adorn it with beauty and sit and admire it as the centerpiece of my home (that is worship). Though I get up on Dec 25th and go about my day I do not celebrate the Christ Mass by resacrificing my Lord or celebrate the supposed divinity of Mary. And Thanksgiving is a great time to send cards, give gifts and celebrate what God is doing in our lives. And the Old Testament feasts are a beautiful foretatse of Christ unmarred by paganism and mostly by commercialism.

  12. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Steve – Enjoy the feasts then! Sounds wonderful!

    And I’ll also enjoy Christmas, unmarred by paganism and commercialism (yes, it is possible!)!

  13. Great post, Stacy! Couldn’t agree with you more~

    Merry Christmas!

  14. Kattyrae says:

    Thanks you so much for sharing this!

    I read your article on legalism first, then scrolled down to find this post. The two in conjunction really blessed me today and helped me some some things I have been struggling with.
    God bless you!

  15. Jennifer says:

    Steve, are we to allow our joy at Christ’s birth to be marred by superstition and fear of what pagans and secularists do? Not me; I forbid it. Pick up a Christian book, particularly “Glory of Christmas” or “One Incredible Moment” or “12 Ways of Christmas” and thank your Savior for His birth, His humble choice of beginnings, and the children of His that write miracles from His miracle.

  16. Renee says:

    I love your perspective on this, Mrs. McDonald–especially where you said that the day *when* we celebrate is not special, but the day which we *remember* is glorious. I know all the common arguments against Dec. 25th, but the real design for Christmas is to remember the glorious truth of Christ’s incarnation and His enlightening of a darkened world. That is so amazing to me that I can’t imagine not wanting to remember it and tell others about it. I really appreciate how you explained your family’s position on it! Thank you so much!

  17. Steve – Here is a good article that addresses the theory that Christmas was simply a reworked pagan festival. Well researched and worth your time.

    http://www.classicalastronomy.com/news/anmviewer.asp?a=246&z=13

    Merry Christmas

  18. Denise says:

    James,
    I took the time to read the article that you referenced. I would like to also recommend to you an article which lays out the more traditional Presbyterian view of ‘holy days’.

    http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/Xmas_ch2.htm

    Here is one quote from the article:

    In a tract on The Necessity of Reforming the Church, Calvin exclaims:

    I know how difficult it is to persuade the world that God disapproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by His Word. The opposite persuasion which cleaves to them, being seated, as it were, in their very bones and marrow, is, that whatever they do has in itself a sufficient sanction, provided it exhibits some kind of zeal for the honor of God. But since God not only regards as frivolous, but also plainly abominates, whatever we undertake from zeal to His worship, if at variance with His command, what do we gain by a contrary course? The words of God are clear and distinct, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men,” 1 Sam. 15:22; Matt. 15:9. Every addition of His word, especially in this matter, is a lie. Mere “will worship” (ethelothreeskia) is vanity [Col. 2:23]. This is the decision, and when once the judge has decided, it is no longer time to debate.[13]

  19. Hi Denise,

    Here are a couple of other quotes from John Calvin you might want to review:

    From a letter he wrote in 1551, ““Besides the abolition of the feast-days here has given grievous offense to some of your people, and it is likely enough that much unpleasant talk has been circulating among you. I am pretty certain, also, that I get the credit of being the author of the whole matter, both among the malevolent and the ignorant. But as I can solemnly testify that it was accomplished without my knowledge, and without my desire, so I resolved from the first; rather to weaken malice by silence, than be over-solicitous about my defense. Before I ever entered the city, there were no festivals but the Lord’s day. Those celebrated by you were approved of by the same public decree by which Farel and I were expelled; and it was rather extorted by the tumultuous violence of the ungodly, than decreed according to the order of law. Since my recall, I have pursued the moderate course of keeping Christ’s birth-day as you are wont to do.”

    Note – John Calvin observed Christmas!

    And then, from a letter written in 1555, ““Respecting ceremonies, because they are things indifferent, the churches have a certain latitude of diversity. And when one has well weighed the matter, it may be sometimes considered useful not to have too rigid a uniformity respecting them, in order to show that faith and Christianity do not consist in that. . .

    “As to festival days, they were abolished at Geneva before I left France . . . though for the innovation I am personally irresponsible. For the rest, my writings bear witness to my sentiments on these points, for in them I declare that a church is not to be despised or condemned, because it observes more festival days than the others. From this recent abolition of feast days, here is what has resulted. Not a year has passed without some quarrel and bickering, because the people were divided, and to such a degree as to draw their swords. . .

    Note – Calvin was not opposed to individuals or churches participating in observing days such as Christmas – the observance fell into the area of Christian liberty.

    Calvin’s point in the 1555 letter shouts out at us today. As then, Christians spend more time divided over this issue, quarreling and bickering, almost to the point of drawing swords, than they do engaging the culture for Jesus.

    I am a Presbyterian and am proud of my heritage, but I do not believe we have always done everything right.

    Grace and peace,

  20. Coffee4Mommy says:

    Very interesting take on Christmas. Perhaps the scriptures should be considered a little further.

    Exodus 32: The Israelites convince Aaron to make a golden calf. They used it to worship God; mixing false religion with true religion – a “festival to Jehovah.” How did God feel about this? He told Moses, “now let me be, that my anger may blaze against them and I may exterminate them…” Mixing true worship with false does not please God in any way.

    John 4:24 – “God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.” If we Celebrate Christmas, which contains numerous untruth’s in many traditions, are we really worshiping in truth?

    Would Jesus not have told us to commemorate his birth if he had wanted us to? He told us to commemorate his death. (Luke 22:19)

    What was Jesus’ primary purpose when here on earth? It was to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. (Luke 4:23) It is was his focus. Should it not also be ours? (Matthew 28:19, 20; 1 Timothy 4:15, 16; Matthew 24:14) Instead of “observing days and months and seasons” or annual festival seasons as Paul counseled first century Jewish Christians against, our focus should be the same as Jesus’ focus – preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. We are to imitate him. (1 Peter 2:21)

    If the house was on fire and we told our children to focus on getting out of the house as fast as possible, would we not be incensed if they ignored us and stopped to have a party to thank us for giving them life? Much is the same with Christmas (and any other holiday for that matter). It really detracts from the work that Jesus’ commanded us to do. If we want to survive this world that is soon to pass away, we need to stay focused on our work at hand and keep apart from those that are alienated from God. (1 Cor. 15:58; 1 John 2:15-17; James 1:27; Romans 10:13-15) Is celebrating Christmas a form of preaching? Does it really matter if our worship is tainted with untruths? (2 Cor. 6:14-17)

    As to using the calendar, it is not used in worship. Celebrating Christmas is worship – offering reverence to Jesus. There are many things with a connection to the ancient Pagan world. Christians would never be able to escape that. That is why Jesus made his request at John 17:15-19.

    Just some thoughts on why I made a personal decision not to celebrate Christmas. The wonderful thing about free will is that we all have a choice in how and who we worship. (Deut. 30:19, 20)

    Thank you for allowing me to comment :)

  21. Jennifer says:

    I find your conclusion surprising and the anology rather offensive. Does God never ask us to rest? To celebrate? The Jews took time to celebrate after escaping Egypt. God never tells us to behave as though we’re constantly living in a house on fire. We fight evil, but we don’t fear it; our celebration and worship comes in the knowledge of His victory. Almost the entire world feels the difference, the love of Christmas; I was just now finding calm joy in Michelle Tumes’s haunting and simple song, “Merry Christmas”. With most of the world taking solace in this peace and celebrating, how can we, Christ’s children, not join in?

  22. Coffee4Mommy says:

    I certainly apologize for sounding offensive. I mean no disrespect. I was only trying to get across the urgency of telling people of God’s kingdom and the need to stay awake to it. (1 Th 5:6-10; 1 Peter 4:7) I respect your decision to celebrate.

  23. Jennifer says:

    No need to apologize, I hope I didn’t seem like I jumped you. I just find this transformation of everyone around me so precious; the commercialization is sick, but Christ’s spirit is still there. Thank you for being so respectful.

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