Do you celebrate the traditional Christmas or the birth of the Messiah? I ask this question because there is a difference between the two. One is steeped in tradition and paganism while the other focuses on celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
Many people celebrate Christmas in the same way their parents have celebrated Christmas, with family gatherings, lots of presents and lots of food and Christmas treats with no thought of the origins of Christmas.
So, I’m asking three questions, well, make that four questions:
- Should Christians celebrate Christmas?
- Do believers know why they are celebrating Christmas?
- Do you celebrate Christmas focused on the birth of Jesus?
- Would Paul celebrate Christmas? Would Jesus?
Our Christmas Debate
If you have decided that Christians should not celebrate Christmas because of its origins, then please continue reading as I attempt to share some simple truths from God’s Word that might help you change your thinking.
My husband and I have not celebrated Christmas since 2015 as we felt that we would be disobedient to the Word if we did. We looked at both sides of the issue and debated whether we should or not and decided that we needed to follow the Word and refrain from Christmas celebrations.
Our choice made it a little awkward for our family and friends as they felt uncomfortable around us, not knowing if they could or should give us Christmas cards or gifts or acknowledge Christmas in any way.
So, what changed? Just like the issue of celebrating Halloween, Holy Spirit has been preparing my heart about whether or not we should be celebrating a season that is steeped in idolatry and paganism.
This post is mainly for those who have decided not to celebrate Christmas. This question I ask you in all honesty, should Christians celebrate Christmas or not?
Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? WWPD?
It’s rather funny when you ask yourself some heavy questions and then see the answers as God brings them to you one by one. In this case, as I wondered if we were doing the right thing about not celebrating Christmas, God showed us through some videos that though we were right, we were also wrong.
It’s true that the origins of Christmas are pagan and for that reason alone, Christians should not be participating in Christmas celebrations.
But the flip side of the coin is that there are many people who do not know the story of Christ’s birth and someone needs to share it with them. That someone could be you, or me.
Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 to see what Paul would do if he were here today. I highlighted the text I want to emphasize as I answer the question WWPD?
19 For though I am free from all people, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may gain more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might gain Jews; to those who are under the Law, I became as one under the Law, though not being under the Law myself, so that I might gain those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without the Law, I became as one without the Law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might gain those who are without the Law.
22 To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak; I have become all things to all people, so that I may, by all means, save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. NASB.
In a nutshell, Paul is saying that he would celebrate Christmas but with the focus on sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ so that he might win some to Christ. Saving souls was his whole focus.
So, for this very reason alone, the answer to the question of should Christians celebrate Christmas is yes, Christians should celebrate Christmas!
Why Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?
So, why should Christians celebrate Christmas? Why am I celebrating it now after a few years of refusing to celebrate Christmas?
Well, it’s because of what Paul said. Sharing the gospel should be a high priority for all believers. Jesus said in Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:19 to tell everyone about Him. His exact words were “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15.
What I missed seeing a few years back was that there is no qualifier in either of these two passages. Jesus never said Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation except at Christmas, Easter, or especially at Halloween.
So, if Paul teaches that his focus is on being all things to all men in order that he might save souls, shouldn’t we? Shouldn’t I be doing this?
Amir Tsarfati, in his video on “Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?”, said this:
Share the true and real story of Christmas, to bring the focus back to Jesus, to bring the focus back to the story of the birth of the Messiah. The tree isn’t important, Santa Claus isn’t important, the date isn’t important but for millions that is what Christmas is about. They do not know of the real story of Christmas, about the prophecies that have been fulfilled about the Messiah.Should Christians Celebrate Christmas by Amir Tsarfati, December 17.
So, for millions of people who do not know the true story of Jesus’ birth, of the prophecies foretold of his unique birth, of the fulfillment of those prophecies, it would be wise to make the decision to use the Christmas season to share Christ with others.
As a Christian, use this opportunity to tell people of the true meaning of Christmas and not the pagan aspects.
The True Meaning of Christmas
While the Bible doesn’t give us step-by-step instructions in celebrating Christmas, there are some key points we can use as we celebrate the birth of Christ and share with others.
Let’s start with some prophecies that are significant to Jesus’ birth.
- Micah 5:2
- Isaiah 7:14
- Hosea 11:1
- Isaiah 9:6
- Genesis 3:15
- all throughout the Old Testament, the narrative is about the Messiah coming from a woman, who would rule and save His nation.
God has been present from the very beginning of time. Psalm 90:2 says that from everlasting to everlasting, God is God. Before creation was formed, God was there. We know that Jesus is God for He, Himself said that to the Jews that “I and my Father are one.” John 10:31.
And by the way, Jesus said this at the “feast of dedication”, which is Hanukkah. He made the point of explaining to the Jews that it’s all about Him. Read John 10:22-31 for the full story. So, WWJD? Would Jesus tell believers to celebrate Christmas? I believe He would!
From the beginning of time, God planned for Jesus to come to earth to be our Saviour. His birth would be unique. Prophecies would tell of His birth, His life, His death, and His resurrection. He is the gospel wrapped up in swaddling cloths.
Jesus fulfilled all prophecies about His birth, their flight to Egypt, and their visitors who found them there. Many don’t know this true story, will you tell them?
Questions for Those Who Do Celebrate Christmas
If the Christmas story is about picking the right tree, the tree decorations and household decor, the baking of favourite goodies, the visit to Santa Claus, and everything else, if that’s what the Christmas story is for you, the believer, then you need to ask yourself, am I telling the true Christmas story? Long sentence, I know!
Am I focusing on the real reason for the season?
Am I intent on sharing the gospel message, the prophecies fulfilled in Jesus and bringing others to know Christ?
A Message for Those Who Do Not Celebrate Christmas
If you have made the decision not to celebrate Christmas because of the pagan origins, that’s okay. I totally agree with you!
But can you put aside all reasons you may think about not celebrating Christmas because of paganism for a moment? Think about Paul and how he was willing to be all things to all people to win some to Christ.
Can this attitude be in you as you put aside your beliefs about the pagan aspect of Christmas for the desire to win some to Christ? Can you make this your main focus of Christmas, as a time of soul-winning?
You don’t need to set up a Christmas tree in your home, you don’t need to decorate every room in your home with Christmas decor, you don’t need to do these things but you can participate in the celebration of the greatest event in history, the birth of Jesus. Tell His story. Make your focus about Him and let others know of the real reason for the season.
Don’t shun yourself from everyone else by not celebrating Christmas. Don’t give them a reason to turn away from Christianity because you believe that Christmas is a pagan holiday. Instead, be a part of the holiday and show them how to celebrate the real reason, show them that Jesus is what believers celebrate and why.
Preach the gospel means you need to get out there and be a part of the reason for the season.
Jesus is the only one who can save men from their sins. Without His birth, salvation would not be possible. So, instead of staying indoors by yourself, be a part of your church’s Christmas celebration, be a part of your family’s celebration and share the gospel with them. Allow Holy Spirit to make the opportunities for you and when He does, step forward and speak the words He gives you to speak.
You may need to prepare what you are going to say so you will need to familiarize yourself with the Scriptures.
Look up the passages about the prophecies of His birth. Refer to the bullet list above to help you get started.
Look up the passage about Simeon in Luke 2.
Look up the passages that tell of His birth in Matthew and Luke and learn them.
This way, when you are given an opportunity, you are ready to share what you know about Him, 2 Timothy 4:2. While you may only be telling a part of the full gospel message (His birth, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension), you are helping others to see that this is only the beginning. Who knows, you may be planting seeds in someone’s life who will make a decision to follow Christ.
Your responsibility in sharing the gospel is to tell it and let Holy Spirit do the rest. It isn’t your responsibility that they accept Christ as Lord and Saviour at that very moment. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t but either way, the responsibility for their decision doesn’t lay with you, it belongs to Holy Spirit. You don’t have to be concerned with being pushy as you share Christ. Simply tell His story in simple terms and leave the rest to Holy Spirit.
Use the Christmas Traditions as Your Props
What I mean by this title is to use what is handy around you to share the gospel.
Is there a nativity on the table or mantel? Then use each piece as your prop to share that piece of the story. Begin with Mary and tell of the prophecy about her and also when the angel visited her. Then move on to Joseph and tell how the angel visited him twice. Then pick up the baby in the manger and tell of the prophecies about Him and tie it all together with what you mentioned about His mother.
The shepherds in the field have a story to tell as well. How often does a heavenly host of angels visit shepherds in the fields?
The wise men, they had a role to play also. Tell of their visit to King Herod and how Holy Spirit prompted them to return by a different direction and why. What did the wise men bring to Jesus? Tell how these gifts funded His ministry 30 years later.
Are there gifts under your Christmas tree? Then use this as an object lesson about Jesus being the best gift of all. And since He’s the best gift, you can tell about the gift He has made available for everyone, the gift of salvation.
Maybe you’ve eaten a good meal, use it as a segue into the Last Supper and what Jesus said to do…do this in remembrance of me, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25.
Make your Christmas celebration about Him. Let Him be the focus of the season.
Use the Elements of the Traditional Christmas as Opportunities
I’m sad that I missed out on this these past few years. I missed opportunities to share the love of Christ with others while I sat at home dismissing Christmas altogether.
Now that Holy Spirit has shown me what I need to do, I can use the traditional elements of Christmas to share the gospel message.
Gift-giving, sending cards in the mail with letters telling of the greatest story of all or dropping cards off at your neighbours’ homes even if you don’t know them.
Visiting seniors with some baking (provided you know their dietary restrictions) and reaching out to schools to see how you could help the kids there.
Everyone loves to receive gifts so why not include some reasonable and practical gifts for others? These don’t have to be extravagant but definitely practical would be appreciated.
A mug with hot chocolate mix with marshmallows or their favourite coffee flavour.
Everyone can use some socks or mittens, or even a warm hat if the climate dictates hats are appropriate.
If you love to cook or bake, food gifts would be appreciated as well. Or even mixes, like, hot chocolate mix or my favourite, French Vanilla Cappucino mix. Even seasoning mixes would be well received. I made some French-Canadian Tourtiere Pies and froze them to give away as gifts, so frozen baked goods would be thoughtful gifts.
Whatever you do, let your gift-giving speak of the greatest gift mankind has received, and that’s the gift of salvation in the form of baby Jesus.
The Christmas Story
How about reading the story surrounding Jesus’ birth to your children? Read Matthew 1:18 to Matthew 2:18 and Luke 1:5 through Luke 2:38. These passages are best read in the Chronological Bible as it compiles the two stories together as one. It’s quite beautiful and definitely gives a new appreciation of the genealogy of Jesus and the prophecies about Him as well. An added benefit is to go back to the Old Testament prophets to read what was prophesied.
If you have a Chronological Bible then this story will be super easy to read. Start with Luke 1:5 to begin the story with the birth of John the Baptist and end with Matthew 2:21 with how Jesus arrived in Israel after living in Egypt for two years.
If you do not have a Chronological Bible, the story line would be as follows:
- Luke 1:5 through the end of the chapter
- Matthew 1:18-25
- Luke 2:1-38
- Matthew 2:1-23
- Luke 2:39-40
If you have time, it would be super cool to print out these passages in chronological order and make them as a book to use from year to year. You could incorporate pictures from free photo sites to illustrate the story for younger children.
Or, you can print out this 12-page Chronological Christmas Story, The Greatest Story Ever Told, if you don’t have time to make your own.
This is a Wrap
As a reminder to those who do not celebrate Christmas, don’t let the details of candy, decorations, trees, and all the rest keep you from sharing the gospel of Jesus. Look at it as an opportunity to share Christ just as Paul became like those around him to win some for Christ.
Paul also said in Romans 14:5 that if your conscience is violated, then definitely do not celebrate Christmas. But if it isn’t, then look at Christmas as a way of sharing the good news with your family, friends, and others whom God puts in your path.
Use Christmas as another way of making it all about Jesus!
We have the greatest story ever told, let’s take every opportunity Holy Spirit gives us, and this includes Christmas, to tell of Jesus’ birth, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension.
If this has been a blessing to you, just as it has been for me, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
If this has been a blessing to you, please pin it on Pinterest! Thank you for helping me get the Word out! Unfortunately, sharing it to FB results in a message that my website link is spam. FB has blocked my site!
Cindy Barnes has been called by God in the early 80s to be a teacher of His Word. She is a serious student of the Word, focusing on the Inductive Bible Study Method since 2007. Her passion is to teach women how to study the Bible using this method. In addition, she desires for women to develop an intense yearning to draw closer to God through reading and writing out the Bible.
Cindy teaches hundreds of women in her private online Bible Study Group who express their joy of growing deeper in their spiritual walk.
You can stay in touch with Cindy on Facebook through 215 Ministry.