What should a Christian response to Christmas be? For some people this seems almost like a non-question, or a waste of time. Some would say Christians should embrace Christmas wholeheartedly, since it is a Christian holiday. However, there is a flaw to this reasoning. Namely, Christmas or the celebration thereof, is not something that we get from a teaching in Scripture. Now this does not mean that we cannot do it, but it does mean that we have to think a little deeper.
To me then Christmas falls into a different category then say a subject like salvation or the Lord’s Supper, which do have clear teaching concerning them.
What then should we do with it? For things which God did not include in His revelation to us I believe that Christians must deal with these things through the scope of Romans 14. By this I mean these are matters of opinion that should not be bound upon the conscience of all Christians. With this in mind here are some guidelines that I have:
1. I do not believe that churches as a whole should embrace Christmas as a religious holiday. What I mean by this is that I would be uncomfortable with a church celebrating the holiday through a special service on Christmas Day or through the church sanctioning this as a religious holiday. If a church does this then they force upon the conscience of the people something that God has not. To me this goes beyond the authority that the church has.
2. I think if an individual family or families want to celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, then they are within their rights. Romans 14 says that on issues were God has not given us teaching that each of us are to make our own decision. The only sin becomes if we do something that in someway violates the conscience God has given us. If we decide to celebrate as a special religious day, then we do not force this view on others (especially others whom we know would have a problem with them), nor do we judge those who do not celebrate as such (the same is true from the reverse, those who decide not to do it should not judge those who decide to do it).
3. Churches have three choices in my mind in dealing with Christmas. One is to reject it all. Although I do not agree that this is the best idea I can envision scenarios where it could be a prudent path. For instance if you are at a church where it would cause division or undue problems by acknowledging the Christmas season (usually through a Sermon on the Subject on the Sunday around Christmas), then I would say do not do it.
Two is to embrace the holiday completely. My first point shows that I do not think this is a viable option either.
Third is the best in my mind. In my mind churches can redeem the holiday in a way that would be beneficial. In this I think we should recognize that the world is thinking about Jesus during this time and we can use this time as a chance to teach them about the Son of God. This to me would be similar to using a major news event to teach on a certain subject. It just seems prudent to me.
In the spirit of the third option I will be talking about the importance of the incarnation (Jesus becoming flesh) next week.