At this time of year there is always controversy. It seems that some folks are “offended” when Christmas displays are religious in nature. Sometimes it seems that things thought of as “Christian” symbols are found particularly offensive. That is a sad commentary on a nation which was founded on basic Judeo-Christian principles as well as a healthy concern for freedom of expression and freedom of religion. I am saddened that so many attacks such as these are based on anti-Christian sentiment.
Now, lest someone think I am saying something I am not, please understand that I do not use any of these religious symbols myself. I do not try to “put Christ in Christmas” and while I have a tremendous appreciation for what took place in Bethlehem so long ago, I celebrate the birth of the King by honoring Him as king of my life every day of every season. I do not plan on exalting Him any less in July than I do in December. This is because that is how He told me to live.
A Daily Walk With Jesus in Every Season
For example, His word tells me that it is honorable to spend time in contemplation of His holy word every day; “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11).
And, His word tells me that being His disciple involves daily service and sacrifice; “And He was saying to them all, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.'”
Also, He tells us that everyday we ought to be reminding others of the Lord, and encouraging them to live faithfully; “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today,' so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13).
The gospel is to be shared everyday from the first day we come to believe it until the present; “...in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Philippians 1:5).
Now, do not try to persuade me that I need to be reminded of these things at least once a year, and so it is great to have a Christmas season. Do not try to tell me that joy and peace and goodwill is supposed to be seasonal at all. I do not need to be reminded of these things if I already live them every day.
Jesus: The Originator of Every Season
The pre-eminence of Christ is often ignored by a fallen world. I do suppose that more render at least lip service to His glory and majesty at this time of year. I am also sure that some very sincere praise is offered during this season as well. But, Jesus has not requested that we devote such a season to honoring His birth. I do not know why He didn't, but I do trust Him to have revealed unto His apostles all truth and that in the Scripture we find a completely adequate guide to being faithful disciples all year round. But His word says absolutely nothing about a special religious Christmas observance (John 14:26; 2 Timothy 3:16,17).
One of the reasons Christ is pre-eminent is because He is the member of the Godhead through whom God made the worlds. We read about His role in the first chapter of John's gospel where He is referred to as “the Word”. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:1-3; cf. vs. 14).
When we then look back at the creation account, we find that creation also included bringing order to the world, including a natural system conducive to sustaining life which included seasons; “Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years…'” (Genesis 1:14).
So, we may accurately say that Jesus is the reason for every season in the sense that they exist by His creative power.
Jesus, the Reason for Hope in Every Season
Jesus is just as much a reason for hope in the summer as He is in the winter. There was once a time when some of those early Christians, particularly those from Judaism, had a difficult time letting go of some of their former feast days and such. Notice this instruction given to them from the Lord: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.” (Hebrews 13:8,9).
The foods mentioned here have to do with the meat of the offerings and sacrifices that would be made on special days (cf. Hebrews 13:10-14). The Scriptures say we derive our benefit from the grace of God in Christ Jesus and His sacrifice, not in the meat of animals offered as in Old Testament times. Jesus is our hope. He is our only hope and the only one through whom we can derive spiritual benefit (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). He does not change in His love for us and His willingness to save us. He does not love us more in December than He does in July, and our love for Him ought to reflect itself every day of every season as well.
It is with “goodwill toward men” that the Christian lives each day of His life. Instead of being particularly generous on a seasonal basis we ought to, by faith, be more generous every day. “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Galatians 6:10).
Finally, I do not want to close before briefly mentioning that perhaps if people would become more interested in growing in the knowledge of the Lord, they would make some discoveries that would probably surprise them. For example, they would discover that the three wise men that everyone knows visited Jesus on the night of His birth do not exist at all. Instead, the Bible says some wise men visited Jesus, but does not say that there were three. And it does not say they visited Jesus in the manger on the night of His birth (as did the shepherds). Instead, they left their homes in the east and traveled a great distance, stopping at Jerusalem before proceeding onto Bethlehem, where they find Joseph and Mary and the infant Jesus living in a house by that time, no longer in the stable, as so many nativity scenes wrongly depict (Matthew 2:1-11).
Less I be accused of being like Scrooge, let me point something out, Scrooge was selfish and miserly all the time (at least he was consistent). I am definitely not advocating that, as anyone can see who has read this article. I am saying that a year long generosity, faith, goodwill, peace, and praising of God is what the Lord wants out of us. A temporary, seasonal adjustment of attitude is sorely inadequate. Living for Jesus every day is the right thing to do.
From The Bradley Banner 12/28/2003
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
Bradley, IL 60915