The reason why I continue to put these thoughts out there even though few want to hear them... I believe Christians NEED to be reminded.
Every year Christians have to literally remind themselves, their children, and other Christians... actually, the world as well... what "the true meaning of Christmas" is. There's SO much in the history of Christmas that is not Christian... that Christians attempt to fight for and cling to.
It's a losing battle. The reason is simple...
Christmas has ALWAYS been a worldly holiday...
evidence that Christmas(and Easter) has always been a worldly holiday... what other religions have people trying to "steal" their holidays? Are there any battles over muslim holidays? Does the world try to secularize or even modernize those? no. Jewish holidays? How about their feasts and festivals that God himself ordained? Are the Jews in a battle with the world? Are they going to their coffee shops demanding that people say "Happy Passover" rather than "happy holidays?"
These kinds of battles do not exist outside of our "Christian" holidays because most other religious holidays were founded on much deeper meaning and rituals. From the very beginning, Christmas has been FILLED with worldly traditions that have become stronger. Started with caroling, trees, presents, and lights. ALL of those practices started BEFORE we invented Christmas... but, we adopted them to satisfy our desires, our needs to cling to our cultural practices(traditions). Over the years we allowed things to become even more commercial and even let a god-like entity come into the picture and captivate our children... yes, santa... Honestly, I've written this before... but I think the man santa was designed to reflect would roll over in his grave, as they say, if he saw what Christmas has become. We teach our children that santa knows if you're bad or good and knows if you're sleeping or awake... and that he can deliver toys to ALL the children of the world in a single night.
Honestly, many children literally fear santa and have far more faith in him than they do God. Why? Because not only are we teaching our children how powerful santa is... but, we also point him out. Physical evidence. Children are not given that kind of visual assurance about the existence of God.
Why do we do this? Tradition. In fact, many people have and will get ANGRY with you if you try to question these things. Even family will turn on you. Why am I the only one that feels sickened that fellow Christians would use peer pressure to guilt you into worldly practices? :/
Last year when I brought up the LIE of santa claus, even one of my brothers laid into me. Lectured me... told me how sad it was that my kids would not grow up with santa. Really? What are my kids missing out on? Truthfully... all they're missing out on is LIES. Santa is a lie. We teach our kids from that young age that it's okay to lie. For who's benefit? Our own. Because somehow, WE enjoy watching our kids go through that silliness.
Back on topic... Christmas never fully belonged to Christians. Sure, we dedicate parts of our rituals to God. SOME of our Christmas songs are actually about Jesus being born... SOME of them... And, more people attend church that time of year than any other.
We will say that "Jesus is the reason for the season..." (Side note here... Jesus is the reason for EVERY season!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
We get all riled up if someone dares to say "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas.
But should we?
Much of this I've written before but, I'll continue to write about these things.
So, Christmas was literally built upon practices that were never "Christian" to begin with. The whole world has enjoyed the practices... the lights are all neat to look at... exchanging presents is fun. Christmas movies are funny... there's SO much of it that absorbs up all... Christian and non. As our world has become more and more immoral... and people have been led astray, and many have fallen away from the church... people don't want to give up those practices... JUST like when Christmas was created... those people did not want to give up those practices.
ALL of those practices have NOTHING to do with Christ. NOTHING. Each year we try to rationalize and argue for them. Somehow the tree represents Christ... and this and that... We're making that stuff up as we go. Those things NEVER represented Christ... or Christmas. They were and ARE worldly practices.
So, it should not be any surprise that when people stop believing in God, they can't give up those worldly practices that again, mean so little. The holiday itself, Christian or not, isn't ALL bad. People of all beliefs do TRY to keep the "spirit" of Christmas by being extra nice this one time of year... Peace on earth, good will toward men. This is a biblical quote is it not?
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
But, even atheists approve of that part... Most people today do want things to be nice on earth.
Anyway, what are we fighting for? Christians today are up in arms about Christ being removed from Christmas. I've said this before but, I don't believe He should have ever been put there. He didn't ask for that. And if you study your old testament a bit you'll see that God took it VERY VERY seriously when His people adopted pagan traditions. Boy did He get mad.
Somehow, Christians have allowed themselves to believe that, we've done nothing wrong. Somewhere in our hearts it is ALL about Christ... and hey, what's wrong with celebrating the birth of our Savior right?
That is us trying to rationalize why we continue in those worldly practices.
Yes, I'm daring to say this... If you put up a tree, decorate, give presents, and get wrapped up in ANY of that... those are worldly practices. You do it in the name of God... but, MILLIONS upon millions of people do those SAME things and have the SAME fun that do not believe in God at all. Those practices are EMPTY...
I want to pause for a moment to say... I'm not telling anyone what they should do. We all need to do what is right in our hearts... If you believe you can keep the "true" meaning of Christmas... I can't judge you for that. But do not try to rationalize and reason away all the worldly practices. Don't attempt to say that giving presents is all about Christ... or the tree... or any of it. Because pagan and Christian alike today do the same things and they have from the very beginning.
Why am I so passionate about this? Because Christians are supposed to be different. God demands that we be not of this world. The bible says if we love the world, we hate God. And as I mentioned earlier... God got awfully angry when the Israelites picked up pagan practices.
This is essentially what we did with Christmas.
The problem is... it's been going on for SO long, MOST people do not want to hear it. Instead, they'd rather embrace the fight with the world over the holiday.
Many Christians today see the world trying to strip them of a Christian holiday. What I am seeing is the world trying to take back what has always been theirs.
What is Christmas about to you? Let the world say "happy holidays" all they want. The day, the celebration, and the practices never really meant anything and they still don't.
Let them take the trees and the presents and the mistletoe and such... Those were never ours to begin with. They never should have been.
I'm going to restate... "Christian" holidays are the only holidays being "stolen" or "destroyed" today. Christians see it as a bad thing but, I see it as no surprise. The reason why Christian holidays are the only ones under attack isn't simply because Christianity is the only religion under attack...(Though, that's something to discuss as it sure does seem that way). No, Christmas holidays are under attack because they were literally built on non-Christian traditions.
How can we expect to win a fight for secular or pagan rituals?
I've written this before... but... Some of the traditions we've adopted... it would be like a group of satanists denouncing satan, turning to Christ, but continuing to wear their pentagrams and other practices... but attempting to change the meanings of them. There's really little difference.
The reason why this is SO hard to understand is because, chances are this is something you've been doing your entire life. It's ingrained in you. Hey, this is how things are done... this is normal... this is the way things are. We don't like to question those things because it requires us to look at US and consider whether or not we need to change. People do NOT like to do this.
My own mother got upset with me the first year we told her we wouldn't do a tree. She was hurt.
Another big reason it's difficult to walk away from Christmas... is also a reason the world is fighting us for it. It's nothing but a big party. All those things are fun. And no matter what meanings we put behind our practices... no matter how many times we state it's all about Jesus... We still find a way to say things like "every child deserves a toy at Christmas..." How? Why? If the holiday is "ALL" about Christ... why is it really so much about US?
Christmas feeds our selfishness. Our greed... and our desire to just have fun. MOST "modern" holidays are like that. On the 4th of July, people don't sit around for hours at a time talking about the founding of our nation... I've been to a LOT of 4th of July get togethers and have NEVER witnessed such conversations... nope... people barbecue and light fireworks... and sadly, far too many it seems drinking beer is a big part of such "holidays" as well.
We turn everything into a party.
Personally I feel like Thanksgiving is the least worldly of all our holidays. It still has some selfish traditions involving gluttony... but, there's little in the way of frivolous commercialism.
Ask yourself... if the practices and traditions of a Christian holiday are SO important to Christianity... why is the world fighting to take Christianity out of those practices? And why has the world ALWAYS participated in them?
Back to the Jews... They have some feasts and festivals that no other religion or atheists or secularist has ever tried to fight for. Why? Because their rituals and traditions were given to them BY God and actually have deep meaning... whereas Christian's holiday traditions were borrowed from the pagans... and had little meaning.
Last year when I wrote about this, I wasn't sure what the "correct" answer was in all of it. It's funny that atheists are fighting for a holiday that IS literally called CHRISTmas. That's the name of it... and that's the history of it. So, even while I think Christians should honestly have no part in something founded on pagan practices, I find it interesting that the world is trying to take Christ out of something that literally was named after Him. It's kind of silly isn't it?
Personally... IF it were up to me... I'd split the stinking holiday. Create a new Christmas free of ALL of those commercial and WASTEFUL(don't get me started on wrapping paper) practices and actually focus on the study and appreciation of Christ's birth... take the party out of it because the party has become the focus... Maybe change the day? But, let the world have the WORLDLY practices that we're clinging to. Let them have them. Let them rename the day and go on putting up trees without meaning or purpose. They're already doing that.
In case you're read this far... I honestly don't care what you personally decide to do. You have to do what's right in your mind. If you believe you can keep your celebration completely focused on God... Good for you. But, don't ever try to explain all the worldly crap that very much is part of the holiday we're fighting for today. If you want to give presents... go for it. Just don't expect the world to concede that giving presents at Christmas is a Christian thing. It isn't. The world can do that and has been since long before we decided it was our thing.
The world is going to keep on practicing all of the worldly practices of Christmas... just like most Christians, even if I could get them to read this and reason with them... will continue to participate in the same traditions... What's done is done... and nobody likes to walk away from that. And it isn't easy. I know this. I still get questions... I still get judgment... and I still get people reacting as if I'm judging them. If I say I don't do Christmas... sometimes that is all I have to say and I'll have Christians criticize me and defend why they do it. It's an automatic response I guess. If I'm questioning what EVERYONE does... it means I'm judging them right?
I can't judge you or your heart... but, I can judge the practices of man. As I said, I'm questioning what EVERYONE does... If the Christians and atheists are doing the SAME things on a given day... how can we say they are inherently Christian practices?
We can't, because they are not and never have been.
That's what I try to stress.
There's a war on Christmas and it's not because there is a war on Christians...(though, there is a war on Christians today).
We're playing tug of war with the holiday simply because we ALL want to continue in the fun. Atheists want to celebrate the day and have all the fun without feeling tied to Christianity... and Christians want to have all the fun as well and not have the world take away our made up meaning for it.
Is it our day? or is it theirs? You can judge for yourself.
Though we put Christ in Christmas... the reason the world is trying to take Him out is because we never took the world out of the holiday. Think about that.
Regardless of what the rest of the world chooses to call Christmas... they all celebrate it. All the people that want nothing to do with Christ still want to have all that fun... that's the whole reason we created the day to begin with. To continue practicing worldly things.
Christians are called to be different and be separate from the world... not to chase after worldly things.
While I have been led to believe Christians should have nothing to do with the holiday... I cannot sit here and say God will judge you if you put up a tree...
It is far less important whether you do those things or not... than what they actually mean to you. Is Christ really the center of it all? or, THE all of the day? I dare you to try one Christmas without ANY of the worldly traditions... Try celebrating without a tree, or decorations, or presents, or egg nog, and even caroling. Try it one year. Eliminate every single worldly practice and see if you still keep the holiday a "celebration" without those THINGS. They're all just things. I'm not going to say you're sinning and going to hell or some nonsense if you don't give up Christmas...
But I dare say that what MOST Christians make of the holiday is sinful. It's greed and gluttony and then some. As I said, our holidays are often built upon those fun things. The meaning is there somewhere but, can we live without them?
Think of the rich ruler that wanted to follow Christ. He told Jesus that he had been keeping all of His laws since he was a child. Jesus told him he lacked on thing... he needed to sell all he had and give it away. When the man could not, Jesus told people that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Not because money was bad... but, what did He say about the LOVE of money?
Our worldly practices often consume us... VERY much. Many of us SAY or pretend that Jesus IS the focus of it all... but, can we abandon the meaningless rituals and traditions? Do those things ever control us? Does our spending ever cause debt? Do we ever trample over each other to get the latest toy because that's what Christmas is about... kids getting crap? Can we separate the worldly traditions from what we claim it's all about?
If you cannot, there might be a problem.
In my mind... let the world have the day. It's always been theirs... I believe it is us Christians that tried to take it from them. If all of these traditions actually held any REAL biblical meaning, the world would not be trying to take them from us. They just wouldn't.
Again, the world isn't fighting the Jews for their celebrations...
Though another year has gone by and I'm still not practicing Jewish holidays... I still plan to study those things further. After all... how do we find our made up holidays so important to fight for yet, the feasts written about and ordained by God Himself, we overlook?
Passover being one of those... Passover was originally a celebration to honor God saving the Israelites from captivity... The Israelites used sacrificial lambs and their blood to protect them... it was all symbolic and Christ fulfilled that symbolism with His own body... yet, Christians don't celebrate passover... instead, they get dressed up, go to church, and chase after eggs and bunnies(pagan symbols).
We Christians are much like the Jews of the old testament. We're often wandering through the desert and we're often chasing after things of this world. Who do we love and whom do we serve? We can't love the world and love God... at least not according to scripture.
However you choose to celebrate Christmas... whether you found anything in here of any value to you... I strongly urge to to DAILY seek after Him in ALL you do. If you decide I'm a fool or a humbug or what have you... I still urge you to strive to keep Christ alive in everything you do. If you continue in the "normal" traditions of Christmas... I urge you to weigh them carefully... not just whether you continue in them or not but, question whether they control you or not.
That rich man was unable to give up all his money because he was rich and, in the end his money came before Jesus.
How I view even Christians today... those practices ARE Christmas. We just throw Jesus in there so we don't have to quit having that fun. Fun's not bad... but, what is the controlling factor in it all? Your gut response and/or defensive response is to say "of course Jesus is the most important thing..." but, I urge you to question that. To stop, not feel judge by my words, and really take an honest look at this holiday.
What's it all about? You want to say Jesus... and, again, we try to act like all of the traditions are connected to Him in some way. But, again... the world is practicing the same practices. And again, we borrowed those practices from the beginning. We adopted worldly traditions and now we're mad that the world wants them back.
You can keep Christ in Christmas if you want to... but, just know... a Christmas tree and all of those other traditions, though tied to the day, are NOT Christian practices. If they actually were, the world would not be trying to take them back.
In all you do, seek Jesus... and be blessed my friends.