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Jesus is NOT the Reason for the Season

Posted by on 26 December, 2012 in Popular Culture | 21 Comments

If you remove all the presents, the Christmas tree, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, the tinsel, the lights, the family get-togethers, the roast lunch/dinner can you still celebrate Christmas? If the answer is no then Christmas is not a Christ-centred occasion. In this paradigm, Christ becomes the accessory not the essence of a tradition that feigns genuine religion but in reality is in total opposition to it. It is my contention that the average Christian seeks to squeeze Jesus into the Christmas story when in reality it has never really been about Him. It is apparent that most Christians believe that a five minute Bible reading in Matthew and Luke can miraculously transform this entirely secular tradition into a spiritual occasion which pleases God. The great tragedy of Christmas is the inclusion of Christ, not the exclusion. There is nothing wrong with exchanging presents and spending time with family but why do it with the false pretense that is all about Christ?

SantaThere is also a great theological battle to be fought at Christmas time. Cards are sent which state things like ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season’ and that is simply not true. Jesus is NOT the reason for the season; He is the reason for LIFE! The carols and the nativity scenes are often a substitute for the message of the gospel. The little Lord Jesus in a manger has never brought a sinner to salvation. The shepherds peering over the cradle has never brought everlasting life. The wise men and their gifts never justified a sinner and yet these aspects of the narrative are the focus of sermons, cards and even a secular world will attest to these traditions. The church as a whole is saturated with a weak, watered down gospel which gets excited by a culture that is willing to speak of Christ at Christmas time. This should be a warning signal for the Christian. If a culture accepts an aspect of Christianity there is something seriously wrong with our message. 1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us that the ‘preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness.’ It is absurdity, an offence and will not be tolerated. If our culture is willing to embrace an aspect of Christianity like the nativity, it is because only part of the gospel is being preached. Let me encourage readers of this BLOG to check out the following link: http://www.gty.org/video/study/christmas2/the-real-christmas-story

As Christians we can cruise through life and its socially acceptable aspects without ever asking ‘why’ or ‘how’ something came to be tradition. For example: when someone sneezes our immediate response is to say “bless you.” If we truly understood the origins of such a phrase we would never say it again. Another example is our birthday call and response traditions. One person cries “hip, hip” and the crowd responds with “hooray.” At the core of this birthday tradition is anti-Semitism. Christmas like all man-made traditions, requires careful and diligent studies regarding its origin and emblems. Let me encourage you to not simply ‘go with the flow’ but determine for yourself (and your family) the meaning and message of Christmas and the carols we sing. Let’s not sing carols like “Mary’s Little Boy Child” which states that “man will live forevermore because of Christmas day.” The theology that we sing is of great concern. This year, I read through the carols section of all my music books and found that there were only about five songs that I could still sing and be theologically accurate.

For those that feel I am the ‘Christmas Grinch’ let me bring to light a positive aspect of this season. Christmas is one of the best times to engage a sinner in discussion regarding Christ. This is a terrific opportunity to proclaim the TRUE GOSPEL and challenge a lost person regarding their position before God. Although I have strong feelings about celebrating Christmas in my home, I am not at all opposed to handing out tracts, publicly reading passages of Scripture or involving myself in community events where there are opportunities to speak of Christ.

May God grant you wisdom as you seek to worship Him in Spirit and in TRUTH!

Because of Calvary, (not Christmas)

 

Daniel Kriss

E: youthpastor@mccbc.com.au

About Daniel Kriss

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Daniel is pastor at Mount Cathedral Community Baptist Church in Taggerty, Victoria. Daniel has studied theology and has been involved in itinerant preaching since 1999. In 2006, Daniel founded SWAT Camp which helps develop young leaders for Christian ministry. Daniel and his wife Jessica live in Melbourne. You can contact Daniel at daniel@teaminfocus.com.au.

Comments (21)

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  • avatar

    DMC

    Hi Daniel

    Whilst its true that just teaching the ‘baby Jesus’ will not save – it is a time where people will tolerate hearing the gospel message. On Christmas morning the Anglican Archbishop (from Sydney) preached at a televised church service and he wonderfully directed people from the manger to the cross – telling people that Jesus was not born for Christmas day (or something to that effect) but he was born for Easter – and then he gave a full gospel presentation. So it’s not all watered down! But yes, we do shake our heads when we see some of the people singing Carols on Christmas Eve and know they have no idea what they are singing about. Families all celebrate Christmas differently and I would encourage you to not ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ God Bless

  • avatar

    Daniel Kriss

    Thanks DMC for your comments! I am aware of the televised message given by the Archbishop (in fact he is a personal friend of my Senior Pastor). I am glad anytime that the true gospel is preached! God bless you too! Dan

  • avatar

    D

    So what is the hip, hip hooray about? Thanks for your posts Daniel. We pray and seek to make each day about Christ most especially this confusing time (for our children) of Christmas. We once went cold turkey on learning what it was really about and cut anything red, green or “Christmas” related out. It seemed cold and proved a stumbling block to our un saved family. We now enjoy the summer, the foods and the chance to talk about the Gospel to all kinds of people especially our children. It is a fine line but we are trying to set up a way for our children after us to use this worldly tradition for their Lord and Saviour.

  • avatar

    Daniel Kriss

    Thanks D for you comments. Rather than re-write the etymology and history of that phrase, let me point you to a site which has an excellent explanation of its meaning: http://www.worldviewweekend.com/worldview-times/article.php?articleid=7515
    As always, I do not endorse everything listed here nor do I recommend this site. This specific BLOG is well written and the ancient evidence is sound. Have a great day and God bless! Dan.

  • avatar

    Elizabeth

    Great post Daniel. You guys need to write more!

  • avatar

    Jason Harris

    @Elizabeth, I agree. *hangs head in shame* =P

    @Daniel, I’m not seeing it. Just as Jesus’ death made the imputation of our sin to him possible, it was his righteous life that made the imputation of his righteousness to us possible. Both are essential elements of salvation and I can’t think of an easier time to talk about both aspects of the truth of the gospel than in the context of a socially accepted celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. I totally agree that the peripherals can gut the centre of meaning… but I wonder if jettisoning the whole tradition is the best solution to that danger…

  • avatar

    Daniel Kriss

    Jason, the length of time it took you to respond to this BLOG gave me a clue as to your thoughts….:-)
    I do not disagree or question His righteous life, I am just suggesting that the MAJORITY of is done at Christmas can be done without even mentioning the imputation, righteous life, or the truth of the gospel. I totally agree that it is the easist time to speak with lost people regarding salvation. No offence intended by the following comment, but I believe America and the Western culture have much to blame in the misrepresentation of truth in this realm. Would you agree? What is the centre of the meaning anyway?

  • avatar

    Jason Harris

    lol! Actually, I just got behind and didn’t read it til today.

    Yeah, I agree that the majority of what is done is peripheral. But it is natural and appropriate for any culture to have times of doing those peripherals (rest, singing, decorating, gift giving, family times, and other traditions). Personally, I’m glad that our culture does that around the birth of the King of the universe. Of course I agree that many—maybe most—don’t really understand… yet. But I’m glad that they are at least hearing the history of Jesus Christ and hearing various aspects of gospel truth.

    My view of the meaning of Christmas is that it is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Saviour. It is a season for remembering what happened through the singing of carols and the giving of gifts. These gifts reflect the great gift of Jesus Christ himself. The merriment of the season is a celebration of the hope that has always been wrapped up in the arrival of Messiah, the Christ, whose birth is commemorated.

    Of course there’s a lot more that’s been tacked on over time. And none of this stuff is a biblical requirement. But as a tradition, I feel Christmas is a good one. It is wholesome as a time of rest, relationship, and remembrance. It draws us out of ourselves into an open demonstration of love for those around us by giving of our resources, our time, and our love. At least that’s how I see it. =)

  • avatar

    Daniel Kriss

    Are you bothered by the origins of these traditions or that is not relevant? Christ + mass, the Christmas tree etc??
    I knew eventually we would have to part ways….didn’t think it would be over Christmas…..:-)

  • avatar

    Jeremy

    Hi Daniel,

    Regarding your quote ‘I knew eventually we would have to part ways….didn’t think it would be over Christmas…:-)’: Is that serioius or tongue in cheek humour?

    The reason I ask, is that I am really concerned that ‘parting ways’ happens all too often and over trivial things. I consider whether one chooses to celebrate Christmas Day or not to be a trivial thing.

  • avatar

    Jeremy

    BTW: I have no doubt that some Christmas traditions have non-Christian origins. However, meanings evolve and many Xmas traditions (like the tree) are most commonly associated with Christianity. It is pretty telling the Lakemba mosque imam warns his followers not to wish others Merry Christmas for fear of its association with Christianity.

    On the flip side there are tradition like Santa Claus which had Christian origins (Santa came from Saint Nicholas who showed Christian charity). However, the Santa tradition has evolved to become one of reward for good works – which is a thoroughly anti-gospel message. Because of that I choose not to propagate the Santa tradition with my children. But I don’t part ways with those that do. I believe the best way for us to remind each other to consider why we do what we do. You have done that with this post. Thank you.

  • avatar

    Daniel Kriss

    Hey Jeremy, I’ve now learnt my lesson….I guess people on a BLOG don’t really get to know a prson properly…..I was completely JOKING!!! I would never part ways on a trivial matter like a position on Christmas! Thanks for your comments Jeremy and for anybody who reads these comments….my apologies for being humourous in this forum, I love Jason dearly and I do not believe in parting ways on matters such as these! God bless

  • avatar

    Jason Harris

    lol Daniel! Don’t worry, I got it! What’s the emoticon for tongue in cheek? =P Actually, over at Sharper Iron they started using “tic” to clarify that such comments weren’t serious…

    Yeah, the origin of that stuff doesn’t really bother me. To me, the issue is a) what it means now and b) how that origin relates to today. For instance, the fact that the Christmas date was originally celebrated as a pagan holiday doesn’t bother me because it was distinctly replaced by a Christian holiday. A modern example (which I hope won’t muddy the water) is believers who celebrate Reformation Day on the date of Halloween (which apparently started as a Christian holiday…?). I suspect it’s a more clean break considering that Reformation Day is actually the historical day that Luther posted his thesis and that the traditions for celebrating have little overlap. Still, Reformation Day is still a distinctly Christian holiday and I think it would be a shame for future generations to reject it just because it was used by Christians in our day as a replacement for what many feel is now a pagan holiday (i.e. Halloween).

  • avatar

    Daniel Kriss

    The problem is: What DOES it mean now? I understand what it means for you- It is a celebration of the gospel (the entire gospel, not just the birth of boy in Bethlehem). What is the world view regarding Christmas and should we as Christians support it?

  • avatar

    Jason Harris

    What does Christmas mean?

    That’s the crucial question. I see proactive celebration of the season as the most wholesome and helpful way to answer that question in the eyes of those around me.

  • avatar

    Jeremy

    Christmas seems to mean different things to different people. I see it having a 3 fold purpose.

    1. A point in time when we can be reminded and celebrate the God sent his son to save the world

    2. A platform from which we can preach the gospel

    3. A checkpoint in our busy lives to reflect on family, friends and faith.

  • avatar

    carolbelford

    Message
    The reality of this all is that you should be out there sharing the Gospel instead of spending so much time on your computers!!

  • avatar

    Jason Harris

    @Carol,

    Most people carry computers (smart phones) in their pockets everywhere they go so you can only guess at where people are when they comment.

    I can’t help but note the irony of your comment considering that it’s self-inditing.

    • avatar

      carolbelford

      Hi Jason. Once again another comment tongue in cheek! Must run in the family! Carol

  • avatar

    Jason Harris

    lol… we’ll have to install emoticons or something… =P

  • avatar

    Daniel Kriss

    Jason you may have define what a smart phone is for mum :-)

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