By Skip Rainbolt, Pastor orf Fillmore Baptist Church in Princeton, La.
I am somewhat amazed at the level of participation in the observance of Christmas in our increasingly secularized society. Why do people who want little or nothing to do with Christianity still celebrate this Christian holiday?
Ironies abound during this special season and 2012 was no exception.
During December I read an article about an atheist organization renting a billboard in Times Square in New York which reads “Keep the MERRY – Dump the MYTH.”
Interestingly, the Times Square billboard featured two pictures; one of Santa Claus above the phrase “Keep the Merry” and one of Jesus (at least the traditional representation) above the phrase “Dump the Myth.”
Santa fittingly represents the materialistic, secularized aspect of Christmas and Jesus represents the religious aspect – the “myth” – which the atheists abhor and hope to liberate us from.
Maybe I’m missing something here but isn’t Santa a myth? If their motive is truly to rid our society of myths, why don’t they trash Santa as well?
Additionally, the “Merry” in “Merry Christmas” is void of any meaning apart from the good tidings of great joy heralded by the angelic host (Luke 2:10), that of God and sinners reconciled in the person and work of Jesus, the babe born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago.
The reality is that the atheists behind the Times Square billboard are not concerned with truth over myth; They simply do not like Jesus.
The holy aspect of Christmas, however, is inescapable. You can say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” but the term holiday itself is derived from the phrase “holy day.”
You can put an X in place of the name “Christ” but, since the Greek letter X (Chi) was traditionally used by Christians to represent Jesus, you have not succeeded in removing Christ from Christmas. Even the tradition of gift giving serves as a reminder of God’s grace in giving the greatest gift of all, His only Son, Jesus.
So why do non-Christians celebrate Christmas at all? Everyone from Richard Dawkins to Schulz’s Linus knows what Christmas is really about. It’s about God incarnate – Jesus of Nazareth.
A little intellectual honesty would go a long way here. Without Christ, there is no Christmas. Jesus is no myth! There is no shortage of testimony to the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth and a “Christmas” void of the person and work of Jesus leaves no basis for merriment. So if you do not celebrate Jesus, then why celebrate at all?
I do not write these comments as a complaint but as an invitation. I do not wish that people cease celebrating, but to see all people join in meaningful Christ-centered celebration.
Jesus is the eternal Son of God who laid aside His glory, became a man and entered space and time to rescue rebels from the consequences of our rebellion against our Creator. He came to bear the wrath of God in place of His people. He came so that “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Now that’s a reason to celebrate!