Article - The Claus Vs. The Christ
Recently I have been amazed by the number of religious groups that are canceling services this Sunday due to Christmas. These cancellations present a great dilemma: Are we honoring Santa Claus over Jesus Christ? The very fact that some are canceling their services says they think the Christmas holiday is more important than gathering to worship God & His Son. The Christmas holiday has not only presented problems for some canceling their services this Sunday, but has caused mass confusion over whether or not Christmas should be observed as a religious holiday. Does the Bible authorize us to remember the birth of God’s son as a religious holiday? Was Jesus born on December 25? Should we ever cancel worship services because they conflict with our holidays? Let’s look to the Bible to answer these questions.
First, we must determine from the Scriptures if we are to remember the birth of Jesus as a religious holiday. Does God authorize His people to remember His Son’s birthday? If so, how and when are we to remember it? As a person takes his Bible and looks for words like Christmas & religious holiday he will very quickly notice they are not in the Bible. Christmas is not mentioned one time in the entire Bible. As one studies the birth of Christ, he will also notice that while it was a wonderful event of hope, we are never commanded to remember his birth (Luke 2:1ff). Instead, Christians are commanded to remember the death of Christ every first day of the week by taking the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25; Acts 20:7). As you are reading this you may be thinking to yourself, “It doesn’t say we can’t do it.” To this objection I would ask, “Must the Christian have Bible authority for religious acts, like remembering the birth of Christ?” To answer this question we need only look at a few passages in the Bible that affirm its truthfulness. For example, Paul told Christians not to go beyond what is written in the Bible (1 Corinthians 4:6). Must a person go beyond the Word of God to celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday? Yes! Toward the close of the Bible we are told not to add to or take away from God’s word or divine condemnation will be pronounced upon us (Revelation 22:18-19). Does one have to add to the Word of God to observe the birth of Jesus as a religious holiday? Yes! Paul told Christians, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” (Colossians 3:17). Can we find one shred of evidence where Jesus authorized his birth to be remembered today? No! Friends, if God doesn’t tell us to do something and we do it anyway, are we going to please God? No. If you think it is possible to add to God’s Word and still please Him, just turn in your Bible and read the example of Nadab & Abihu in Leviticus 10:1-2. God did not authorize these men to offer a strange fire, and as a result they perished because of it. God has not authorized Christians to remember His son’s birth, and we must not add to His Word!
Secondly, we must consider the time of Jesus’ birth. Was Jesus born on December 25? Not likely. There are two very strong evidences that suggest Jesus’ birth was not in December. First, we know that shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at the time of Jesus' birth (Luke 2:7-8). Shepherds were not in the fields during December. Concerning this evidence, commentator Albert Barnes notes, “It is probable from this that our Saviour was born before the 25th of December, or before what we call "Christmas." At that time it is cold, and especially in the high and mountainous regions about Bethlehem.” (Barnes, Luke 2:8). Second, Jesus' parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke 2:1-4). Such censuses were not taken in winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating. No one really knows the exact time of Jesus’ birth. If God had wanted us to remember the birth of Jesus as a religious holiday he surely would have told us when He was born!
Since we are not commanded to remember the birth of Christ and we do not know when His birthday was, we should not cancel services. At this point someone may exclaim, “ba-humbug you ole’ scrooge. You’re just trying to ruin Christmas!” This is not the case at all. I enjoy the holiday season as a time to give gifts, spend time with friends and family and take a break from the routine of life. However, the Bible doesn’t authorize me to remember this time of year as Jesus’ birth, nor does it authorize me to cancel services because of the holidays, New Year’s, a football game or any other event that happens to fall on a Sunday. May each of us ask ourselves, “Are we pitting the Claus against the Christ when we cancel services?” And may we remember the words of the wise sage, “Do not add to His Word lest He rebuke you and you be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:6).
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