Luke 2:8-14 (NASB)
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Clearly this event did not take place in the middle of winter. The Bible does not compel us to celebrate this event as a festival or a feast. We have the Passover, which served as a foreshadowing of the Christ and His sacrifice and our deliverance out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light. Nevertheless, it is good that we have a holiday that is at least in-part dedicated to honoring the gift of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For Jesus was with God in the beginning…
John 1:1 (NASB)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
It is fitting to celebrate the birth of Jesus, just as the angels did on that wonderful night. If your celebration of Christmas is with this purpose and focus, then I have no doubt that you and your family are truly blessed. At the risk of sounding a bit trite, the birth of Savior is something we should celebrate year-round, as we live our lives joined to Him in His death and resurrection (Phil 3:7-16).
However, when I think about how mixed the messaging during this season has become, my heart aches. I’m not talking about what the world celebrates… they will always chase after their false gods, idols, deceiving spirits, and exalt themselves in humanism. That they are so lost is the reason Jesus came. We were no different than they, having been born into their sin and equal partners in their death, but by the Grace of God in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, we have been redeemed. I’m talking about Christians… even churches… endorsing, supporting, and perpetuating the demigod of Christmas, Santa Clause. How we have allowed ourselves to become so numb to deception and idolatry is beyond me. That we invite it into our sanctuaries and our homes is worrisome.
There is only One who is all-knowing, and ever-present, and all-powerful. We don’t even grant Satan that kind of power, yet we knowingly ascribe such characteristics to a character of pure fiction. Then we tell our children that he is actually coming to the house, and we go to great lengths to present false evidence of his presence. In full knowledge of our lie and deception. For what? To get our children into the practice of putting their faith in false gods? To teach our children that we cannot be trusted with their faith? That Jesus isn’t enough for us, so we need other gods in the mix?
Proverbs 22:6 (NASB)
6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
The same holds true (doubly so, I fear) when the way we train them up is in error. My wife and I have made a conscious decision to speak truthfully to our children. We will not knowingly lie to our children. When the topic of santa comes up, and my 3 year old asks me point-blank (which has happened already), “daddy, does santa bring presents?” my answer is a quick, “no, son, he isn’t real. He’s pretend, like Micky Mouse, he isn’t real”. I will not lie to your children, nor endorse your lies. I will do what I can to simply refrain from having the discussion, as long as it is fitting that I do so. If your child asks me while we are at church or while I am in a position of authority over your child (Sunday school teacher), I will speak the truth. I am under no obligation to support you in falsehood. If my child “ruins the lie”, I will bear no remorse nor will I reprimand my child. See to it you are not found guilty of reprimanding or disciplining my children for speaking the truth; however, if they are being malicious reprimand them for that and then let me know.
Ephesians 4:17-25 (NASB)
17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.
If only santa were given no more credence than the grinch or the cat-in-the-hat, especially in Christian homes. Jack Frost and Father Winter (Old Man Winter) are other false gods that pop up in our “carols” and seasonal stories/traditions. The limitations of our English create an odd grey area around “the Christmas Spirit”… if it’s merely a mood, fine, but once it is given a persona, not good. The only spirit we engage in/with is the Holy Spirit which was sent to us by Jesus after He ascended into Heaven.
Whenever I bring this topic up, there is usually an appeal to the other extreme where the entirety of Christmas should be rejected and avoided. Sometimes it is merely a hyperbolic counter-assertion set up as a straw-man to dismiss the fundamental appeal I am making (that we lay aside falsehood), and at other times it is a sincere desire to make sure we are only celebrating what is acceptable in the Word (such as limiting ourselves to only the festivals ordained in Leviticus 23). While I see problem with limiting oneself to Levitical festivals, I also don’t agree that Christians are banned from celebrating the birth of Jesus, what we now call Christmas. I do not think less of any Christian who, even after hearing/reading my views on this matter, lack the faith to walk away from santa or the other non-biblical traditions. If ever I am tempted to do so, I am reminded that my living, breathing, and very being is the result of divine Grace, not of my own merit. I am also reminded that we will each be made accountable to God. I think Paul put it best in his letter to the Romans:
Romans 14 (NASB)
14 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. 7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.”
12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
What we are commanded to do in the Scriptures, we must do. Everything else should be covered in Grace, Unity, and Liberty. I pray the Lord Bless you and your family this Christmas Season. May we all join the angels in their praise of the Savior, “Glory to God in the Highest!…”