You would think that Christmas would not be in the least bit controversial – at least in America. It has always been such a time of fun and giving and receiving and singing and joy and laughter. My, how things have changed. Over the last few years you see the Christmas season being turned into the “holiday” season,” stores leaving Christmas completely out of their advertising, the banning of songs in schools which mention the Christ child, the banning of Nativity scenes on public property, a United Nations conference not allowing decorations using Christmas trees, even the president of the United States not using the word Christmas on his official Christmas card. Everything is fine as long as the emphasis is on Santa Clause and you include Hanukkah and Kwanza. But just don’t mention Christ and Christmas.
Of course, the whole idea is to become politically correct and to include everyone. But Christmas? In America? What in the world is going on? In actual fact, what we see happening is another clash of worldviews. Non-Christian belief systems have now become prominent to the extent that they are challenging not only the beliefs, but even the traditions that have held sway in America since its founding.
Naturalism is the belief that there is no such thing as a supernatural reality.
In many ways, Naturalism has become the default religion of American academia, entertainment, news media and politics. While many in these arenas claim to believe in God, the actual expressed ideas come straight out of Naturalism. And with the pervasiveness of Naturalistic beliefs these days, there are also many militant believers who are not content to “live and let live,” but are intent on pushing all religion out of the public square – not realizing that Naturalism, itself, is a faith position. In actual fact, most of the push to remove religious symbols from the public square – including Christmas trees and Nativity scenes – comes from people who hold a Naturalistic worldview.
Animists believe that the spirit world and material world exist in a symbiotic relationship. What goes on in one part affects the other. As such, human beings must carefully take care of the needs of the gods in order to not have their lives disrupted.
Generally, Animists don’t have any qualms with others celebrating Christmas because they simply figure that those people are only worshiping their own gods. But many in our modern culture also don’t want to be left out of the mix when society is deciding what kind of celebrations to support. Relatively speaking, there are only small numbers of Animists in Western societies, and they don’t have much clout to promote their beliefs. But in our politically correct world, many want their holy days recognized alongside the recognition that Christmas receives. While most would not bother to disrupt Christmas celebrations, there are some who will enter the fray to denigrate Christmas for the purpose of promoting their own beliefs.
Far Eastern Thought
Believers in Far Eastern Thought religions assume that ultimate reality is composed of an impersonal life force and that what is seen in the material universe is nothing more than pieces of the force which have become separated from the main body. These separated parts are working their way back to the main body based on karma and the process of reincarnation.
As with the Animists, FET believers generally don’t mind Christians celebrating Christmas, but don’t see it as a part of their own belief system. Except among particularly militant groups, they generally won’t interfere with other people celebrating their own religious traditions.
Theism is the worldview which acknowledges a transcendent God who created and sustains the material universe. God is acknowledged to have revealed himself and his ways to mankind. Of course, Christianity is a Theistic belief system, but there many others, as well. Some of the others have no connection to Christianity at all as it relates to specific Christian celebrations – such as Islam and Judaism. Others are actually cult spin-offs of Christianity – such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The reactions and responses of Theistic belief systems toward the celebration of Christmas are all over the place depending on the particular system. Some simply ignore it, some celebrate it as a part of their own traditions, and some think it is a blasphemy.
Relational Revelation is nothing more than Biblical Christianity. It is the belief that God came to earth in the form of the man Jesus Christ for the purpose of becoming the Savior of mankind who takes away the sin of the world. The celebration of Christmas is specifically the Christian celebration of his incarnation.
Just Who Is Christ?
But for that to have any significance, we need to understand just who this Christ is. Christ is not Jesus’ last name. The human person named Jesus didn’t exist until he was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary. But the person who came to inhabit the body of that man was none other than God himself – specifically Christ, the second person of the Trinity.
Importance of the Birth of Jesus
So, why did God go to all the trouble of taking on the form of a human by being physically born of a woman? It was necessary because of the need of mankind. Humanity became a slave to sin by virtue of the fall. Since the fall happened in history, the fix also had to be made in history. We human beings are in a situation where the penalty for sin must be paid and each person must pay for their own; which payment is spiritual death – eternal separation from God. The only way this problem can be solved for us outside of our own spiritual death is for the separation to be removed by someone else paying the penalty. This requires a stand in who is worthy – one who has no sin in his own life. Since no human being is qualified to make the payment, God decided to do it for us. To do that he had to become a human being and live a human life in such a way as to become a suitable sacrifice. God did that in the form of Jesus Christ.
Ultimately, it is not important at all that Jesus was born if it didn’t lead to his death and resurrection. But the fact is, that is exactly where it led. God had a specific purpose in mind in becoming human, and that specific purpose was carried out in the life of Jesus. His birth was important because it put God in a position to accomplish his plan of redemption.
Why We Celebrate Christmas
Frankly, we should always be celebrating this great gift of God – 24/7/365. But our thanksgiving has so many ways of being expressed that it is easy to let the specific significance of the incarnation get overshadowed. Thus, it is a very good thing for us to make a special point of observing Christ’s birth during this Christmas season. It allows us to focus on how much God really loved us and gives us the opportunity to express our thanks to him for his unique gift to us.
Why humanity should be so special and precious to God that he would lower himself to become a man is, perhaps, beyond our full comprehension. Be that as it may, we must not take that love for granted. As we celebrate Christmas this year, let’s make a special effort to focus on the real reason for the season.