If you’ve ever seen Charlie Brown, you know the struggle that is figuring out the true meaning of Christmas. What is all of this about anyway? Hallmark movie after Hallmark movie will tell you that Christmas is all about finding your roots, going home, being with family, finding love, or some combination of these. And, if you are an upper-middle class person who has got it all together, this may be a satisfactory meaning for Christmas. If you are literally anyone else though, this won’t cut it. Christmas is celebrated in America as a holiday when a god-like figure (Santa Claus) brings presents for all of the children of the earth. Do you see what has happened? We have been given another definition. This one centers around presents and material gain. But, once more, this cannot truly satisfy.
As Charlie Brown found out, Christmas is about the Savior born to us in the city of David. See, if we are to be satisfied, we must have something outside ourselves. We must have a meaning bigger than a Christmas tree.
There are many Christians who, because of all of the abuse done to the meaning of Christmas, argue that Christmas shouldn’t be celebrated at all. I think this is an overreaction to the problem. So how do we correct the problem without overreacting?
Preach the Good News
Often, Christians are asked how God can be all-good and all-powerful if there is such evil in the world. But, this question misses the point. Scripture tells us that God created all things good. Sin is what made everything broken. Now there is death and destruction. Because we all are in Adam in the first few chapters of Genesis, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This is necessary knowledge to properly celebrate Christmas. There can be no good news if it is not set against the darkness of the hideous bad news in our hearts and history.
Romans 5:12–14 (KJV 1900)
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
But, it doesn’t end there. See, the healthy are in no need of a savior. However, we were given a Savior in the Lord Jesus Christ. God doesn’t look down from Heaven and condemn us to what we deserve. He steps into history, takes upon himself sin, and saves his people.
This is the true meaning of Christmas. We should celebrate the Incarnation of Christ the Lord. We cannot celebrate, though, if there is no sin. Let’s recognize our sin, look to the incarnate Lord, Jesus Christ, and celebrate his life, death, burial, and resurrection. Our salvation could come by no other means than the Incarnation. It is in this light that we ought to celebrate Christmas. Tree or not, lights or not, presents or not, we have Christ, and that is more than enough to make the Christian glad.
Luke 2:6–14 (KJV 1900)
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace,
Good will toward men.
That is the true meaning of Christmas.
Soli Deo Gloria.