Christmas and Christ

by J. Randal Matheny, editor
Where does Christ fit in Christmas?
If an extraterrestrial were to observe many lawns where Frosty and Santa share space with a nativity scene, he might be confused when the home owners tried to explain that they believe Christ was born of a virgin, but that Santa and Frosty were, well, mythical characters.
A middle school program we attended recently included songs about the mythical characters like Frosty and Rudolph, seamlessly, with “Away in a Manger” and other religious hymns.
This strange mixture bespeaks part of the problem Christians face about the nature of Christmas.
So what about Christmas and Christ?
First, Paul gives individual liberty when people want to observe special days.
He wrote, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you with respect to food or drink, or in the matter of a feast, new moon, or Sabbath days” (Colossians 2:16 NET).
With the Romans he insisted, “One person regards one day holier than other days, and another regards them all alike. Each must be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day does it for the Lord” (Romans 14:5,6a).
No one is better for thinking of Christ during Christmas, nor is one less for wanting to leave Christ out of the holiday, since there is no Biblical precedent for it.
Second, some people may be more inclined to think of spiritual values and Christ during Christmas, and this may provide a moment to encourage further meditation and teach about the true commitment to Jesus. Christmas may therefore become, if used wisely, an evangelistic opening.
Third, the mixture of myth and truth, of tradition and revelation, in people’s understanding of the meaning of Christmas offers New Testament Christians an opportunity to teach what the Bible says about Christ and salvation. With love and kindness, facts can be presented and spiritual principles put forth that will change lives.
Fourth, the church will continue its worship and proclamation without ceasing, without change. There is no holiday to get away from faithfulness, no flagging of zeal, no flippant treatment of the incarnate God who came to save. Her constant question is, how can we turn this to good for the Kingdom of God in our commitment to remain faithful to our mandate?
The “snowy wings” of angels and the curled shoes of elves are a dissonant picture to our eyes. Mangers and sleighs really don’t match up. All because we serve a merciful God far superior to a jolly Santa and have received a gift of salvation far greater than toys, ties, or technogadgets.
But, then, not everybody knows that yet. Let’s tell them.

So what about Christmas and Christ?

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