Friday, November 25, 2016

Advent 2016 - Preparing for Christmas

When our children were young,  they loved  to watch  the movie,  “How the Grinch stole Christmas“, based upon the children’s   story written by  Dr Seuss. 

There is no doubt that  Christmas  has been stolen by the market place,  and for this reason many  thoughtful Christians have begun to view the  Christmas  season with great suspicion. They  would  point  to the pagan origin of  the Christmas tree, and the fact that  the 24th/ 25th December is probably not  the birthday of the Lord Jesus.

I know of  some  Christian households who,for this reason,will not celebrate nor acknowledge Christmas,  Easter, or any other  Christian festival.
The Jehovah’s witnesses,  a cult which denies the divinity of Jesus Christ,    as a rule  do not  remember   Christmas  or Easter,  nor  birthdays  for that matter. 
Whilst sharing the concerns  that thoughtful Christians have concerning Christmas,   I am not sure  that their thoughts  or reactions  are always biblical. The pendulum   in Christendom  frequently  swings too far.  Too often  one’s zeal  for  Christian reform swings into legalism and  a  judgmental spirit.   

Paul addresses this mind-set  in his letter to the Colossians  (Col. 2:16-23). The Scriptures leaves us  a lot of liberty  in matters of  food, drink and the festivals we choose to  celebrate. The  same Scriptures however also point out that  these  liberties are not the substance.  Christ is the substance (Col. 2:17)! 

We have to make  a distinction  between  people  who  only live for food, drink and festivities,  whose god is their belly  (Phil. 3:19), and those who eat, drink and celebrate with  great gladness  to the  honour and glory of God. Israel was  encouraged by God to eat,  drink and celebrate  (Ex. 23:14-16).  

We have been created to give thanks  to God  in everything (1 Tim. 4:3-5), and especially  for the gift of His Son (2 Cor.9:15)   

So then, is it wrong to  celebrate a Christ centered Christmas accompanied by  all the  singing, decorations, festivities and foods? Absolutely not, and especially  so when our Lord Jesus  Christ  occupies our hearts  and minds on such occasions.    

There is every reason for us to celebrate His birthday, for unto us the great gift of salvation  has appeared.
The fact that we choose to remember  Him on the 24th or 25th  of December is incidental.
The substance is that He was born for  us! And surely  that fact is worthy of  our celebration!  

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