In every holiday, and in every celebration there will always be those who try to stop the fun in a showy fashion. A friend of mine went to a Christmas party in which there was eggnog. In that party, there was a man (we’ll call him Scrooge) who was convinced that eggnog should not be in the celebration because it is the most vile thing that anyone could possibly drink. This is appalling to people like my friend and I who truly love the taste of eggnog, so my friend tried to reason with Scrooge who didn’t want eggnog in the party. Scrooge would not relent, and made it plainly clear that he was right and everyone else was wrong. Everyone must celebrate the party exactly in the same way as he understood it without having any room for other opinions. It didn’t matter to Scrooge that the eggnog was harmless or that many people genuinely enjoy the holiday drink, he wanted everyone to abide by his standards of a celebration.
Though silly, doesn’t it sound familiar to what happens every Christmas season? Every year followers of the Jewish religion file lawsuits against stores, libraries, airports, etc. for mentioning anything about the birth of Christ. The Jehovah Witness cult forbids any of its followers to participate in the festivity of Christmas because of their fears of it being a pagan holiday. Several Christians I have met, and even befriended, told me I couldn’t listen to Christmas songs I love such as Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Run, Run Rudolph for its references to Santa Claus. There always seem to be Grinches and Scrooges every holiday season who try to hinder people from celebrating Christmas, unless it’s done in their own way.
Here are the laws you must abide by to celebrate Christmas:
*WARNING: The following guidelines may contain a heavy use of sarcasm!*
- Do not wish anyone a “Merry Christmas”, but rather a “Happy Holidays”. If you want to genuinely better society, then use the phrase “Season’s Greetings”.
- No Santa. Ho ho ho? More like no no no! Santa is considered to be a pagan symbol of…something. (Don’t question it; just do as the legalists tell you).
- We can’t have mistletoe. If we can’t have a chubby man who loves children and delivers gifts then we definitely can’t encourage kissing and love. It’s Christmas, not Valentines Day.
- No eggnog! Too many people on Facebook and Twitter made memes about how awful it is (not to mention Scrooge’s compelling argument).
- Don’t celebrate Christmas on December 25th. It was the day of a pagan holiday, and not many people know that Jesus was probably not born on that day.
- Christmas trees are pagan. (Don’t ask why they just are.)
- Christmas lights are pagan. (Don’t ask why they just are.)
- Finally, no ham for the Christmas Eve dinner. Ham comes from pigs, which is a sin to eat.
To clarify, I agree that there is a point where people might be worshipping the Christmas tradition more than Christ, but that doesn’t mean that we must throw away the traditions. As Christians, we believe that Christ is the object of our worship. So why must we tithe then? After all, God supplies our every need, so God will surely supply the needs of the church and its elders. Why must we read our bibles? After all, the preacher tells us all that we need to know. Legalists who have invaded the Christian faith become like the Grinch who stole Christmas, in the sense that both tend to believe that their own view of Christmas is superior to everyone else’s.
Legalists may have the right attention and they certainly care about the true meaning of Christmas, but they don’t recognize what is harmful and fun. Santa Claus is not a distraction from Jesus, but something that could point to Him. Rather than dismissing good ol’ St. Nick, why not tell children what the person was really like? St. Nicholas was a godly man who generously gave to the needy. He would do so in secret and with very little evidence that it was his doing. Granted the reindeers and the elves are just a cute add on, but even the myth of Santa prefigures the message of the gospel: Christ came to help the needy and did so with a humble spirit.
Paul faced a similar issue with the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 8-9 when people would eat meat that was sacrificed to idols, and legalists would declare the one who ate it to be in sin. The apostle would say that for the sake of the new believers and the legalists we should try to kindly refrain from doing something that would cause them to stumble. But in 1 Corinthians 9:4 (ESV) Paul asks, “Do we not have the right to eat and drink?” In other words, Paul says that we should be cautious for the sake of the legalists, and then turns to the legalists and says, “Are you kidding me? Can you just let us be?” Paul was trying to communicate that legalists will continue to enforce their ideals and there should be a limit.
So, like Paul, I must ask the legalists, “Are you kidding me? Can you let us be?” You don’t like Santa, reindeers, the lights, and the tree? Then live by your own personal conviction, but no where does it indicate that believers are forbidden from observing cultural traditions of Christmas. As long as it doesn’t distract from the Christmas message within the life of a Christian, there shouldn’t be a reason to forbid anyone from anything. My plea to the legalists is to avoid the eggnog, and don’t be like the Grinch. Try preaching Christ rather than being the Christmas police.
For those who celebrate Christmas, make sure that the traditions don’t become idols and icons. They are a glimpse of the wonder and beauty of the true meaning of Christmas. God came to the world as flesh, and He did this by being born of a virgin. All of this was to fulfill scripture and to prove His deity. He is the true Messiah that the world awaited for, and the Christ for those who don’t realize that the Promised One has come. He is our King, our Shepherd, and our Lamb who was sacrificed. We remember Christmas for Christ, and may it always be so.
Soli Deo Gloria.