I'm beginning my struggle again with the Christmas posts that are sure to be on their way, and have already begun. As I read through the many Facebook posts written by friends and popular bloggers on this topic, I am beginning to feel my blood boiling again.
First of all, I know that the Bible says that one person regards a day as holy, while another person doesn't. I get that and agree with that. If you are a person who doesn't celebrate Christmas, I am not going to chide you or write blogs against you. You have the freedom to not celebrate Christmas. But this issue is deeper than whether we should celebrate Christmas or not.
This issue that I am bringing up reminds me of the whole 'King James Only' issue. There are people who have made a religion out of believing that the King James version of the Bible is the only correct version that is out there. Not only that, the people behind this religion believe that those who translate the Bible into other versions are doing it deliberately in order to discredit Christianity. They will tell you that the translators are doing it in order to remove the deity of Christ. But is that really true?
The Bible began to come together in the third or fourth centuries, although everything had been written, it was put into order and decided what was truly supposed to be in there and what wasn't. There was a strict standard of how they made those decisions. There were other writings out which did not correlate with other parts of Scripture. With all the letter writing going on between the churches and disciples, as well as other newly formed Christian groups, in the early church, all the information that was in the Bible was already being circulated to the different churches. The very first copies were no longer available, but copies of those originals were out there and were preserved.
Today, we are finding many copies of these manuscripts and they are kept in a place where they are studied. They take these fragments and try to match them and put together the Bible with them, to see how much they really do match what was written years ago.
Some would complain and say that there are too many discrepancies, but if you look at what those 'discrepancies' are, you would see that they are very minor. They would be mainly word order or variations of name spellings, for example.
So, many of those who are transcribing the Bible, will notice a discrepancy, and will put a note into the Bible printing, so you and I will be able to see that some things that are in our modern Bibles, such as the King James version, are not found in the earliest manuscripts.
The King James Only people are having a fit with this. Again, they are trying to portray the transcribers as being 'wolves in sheep's clothing' because they are writing things that expose the King James version a little differently. So, a new religion has begun, and in their celebration of this, they had a book burning, in a church up North. They brought all their non-King James version Bibles and threw them into a fire saying that they were Satanic.
OK, this article is not really intended to talk about the King James Only people, but to bring up another new concept that I think is becoming another religion. Of course, it is considered a Christian religion, but it is not found in the Bible.
Now we are contending with people who believe it is wrong and sinful to celebrate Christmas. I have always loved Christmas, and not always for the right reasons, but nevertheless, I am not struggling with this newfound religion because I happen to like Christmas a lot, but because I see something similar to the King James Only way of thinking.
We sing hymns in church today, and many of those hymns are really deep. They speak to people's hearts and minister to them where they are at. But did you know that these hymns were originally tunes from bars (the drinking kind)? The Christians took the songs from the bars and put Biblical words to the tunes. How clever!
Music is from God, but what we do with it can be evil or good. It was intended to glorify God, not the devil, so if we take the tunes that people used to accompany them while they were drinking, what would be wrong with taking those tunes, and putting Biblical words to them? The devil stole the music from God in the first place, and now we have taken it back and use it for God's glory instead of the devil's.
One of the problems I have with the Christmas dilemma, is that those opposing it are comparing the holiday to a 'feast' day that God ordained in the Old Testament. There were certain feast days that people celebrated and those were a picture of what God was doing in the work of redemption for mankind. There was a purpose and meaning for those days, but when Jesus came, He fulfilled all of those feasts and holy days that God appointed.
While I believe that it is ok to celebrate those if they have a precious meaning to us, I am concerned about why we would want to do that. I think celebrating the Passover would be cool, because it is such a clear cut picture of what Jesus came to do for us when He became the Passover Lamb. But, if we go back to such things, we have to be careful to not trust in them and our ability to carry out these holy days in order to try to please God. We don't have to go back to Judaism in order to be saved. In fact, that is what made Paul angry at the Galatians.
Christmas is not a 'feast' or 'holy day' like God appointed the Jews in the Old Testament. Christmas is simply celebrating the fact that Christ came to earth, to live a perfect life, and to die on a horrible Cross to pay for our sins, so we could be reconciled back to God, and not be under God's judgment anymore. That is worth celebrating! The Bible tells us to rejoice. The Bible has a lot to say about rejoicing and celebrating.
Idolatry is a problem for every person who has been born. Idolatry simply is what we love, or have affection for. It is not just love or affection, but what is most important in our lives. If God is not the object of our highest affection, then we are in idolatry. An idol can be literal, like a television, or it can be intangible, like 'fear of man'. We either love God, or we love something else. Our love for God can be measured in our love for other people. If we don't love others, it reveals that we really don't love God. If we love others (and I am not talking about an American idea of love) it shows that we really do love God. Jesus said that others will know that we are His by our love for one another.
Having a plant inside of our house is not worshiping the plant. Having a Christmas tree inside the house is not idolatry! Very few today know who the pagan gods were that people used to worship. No one knows who they are and what their traits were, in order to worship them. You can't worship something you don't know about.
Celebrating Christmas is not a feast ordained by God. Do you celebrate birthdays? God's word doesn't tell us to celebrate birthdays, but there is no indication that celebrating birthdays violates Scripture in any way either. When we celebrate a birthday, we are honoring the person whose birthday it is. The Bible tells us to honor others.
Yes, there are temptations to sin with the Christmas holidays. A big one is materialism. How easy for us to get caught up in materialism and all the toys and games. Such a big distraction that can pull us away from God. God is more amazing than all the toys put together. But toys and games are not wrong in themselves, necessarily. Materialism can lead to pride and idolatry. Is it any wonder that the last words in John's epistles were 'keep yourselves from idols'?
Another temptation is to lose focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas becomes a family tradition, and there is nothing wrong with that, but sometimes, if we are not careful, we will start to think of Christmas as a 'family' holiday. We relate Christmas with family instead of the Christ child.
I think so many times we just get issues confused, and we don't have a good understanding of what the issues are. It is good to learn about the History of Christmas. You will be surprised at how many different accounts there are for celebrating this holiday. We could pick out one and defend it, and use it against other Christians, and continue to divide the body of Christ up (which is a favorite trap of the devil), or we can be content to know the different versions and accounts that make up the holiday we call 'Christmas'.
Let me close by saying one more thing. If we lived in a third world country, I doubt that we would be arguing about whether we should be celebrating Christmas or not, or whether the King James version of the Bible is the only correct one. We might not have any presents to give or even a tree or nice meal, but, we would have the true meaning of Christmas in our hearts, not only at Christmas time, but all throughout the year. That is the way we all should see it. Whether we literally celebrate with decorations and food, or whether we have nothing physical to look at or eat, we celebrate because of the meaning of the holiday.