WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
DECEMBER 24, 2021
TOPIC: IS IT A SIN TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS?
BY T. O. BANSO
“One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it” (Romans 14:5-6a New King James Version).
There appear to be at least three different groups in Christianity on the subject of Christmas celebrations. There are those who celebrate Christmas and don’t condemn those who don’t believe in celebrating it. Also, there are those who don’t celebrate Christmas and condemn those who believe in celebrating it as idol worshippers. The third group is those who don’t celebrate it and don’t believe that those who celebrate it are engaging in idolatry.
It may not be wrong to say that the greatest criticism against the Christmas celebration today is not from outside the church. It is from Christians who, obviously, are making a mountain out of a molehill. They are the ones calling Christmas celebration idolatry. They point out that Christmas has a pagan origin, it is not in the Bible, Jesus was not born on December 25, the commercialization and secularization of Christmas, and so on.
While some of the points they’ve raised are valid, they do not invalidate the celebration of Christmas today. Christmas is more than Santa Claus. It is more than a holiday. It’s more than all the social events that take place during the season. It’s more than all the feasting or commercial activities of the season. These are just distractions. It is one thing to condemn the celebration and another thing to point out what is contrary to the scriptures in its celebration if there are so that they could be eliminated.
Christmas celebration is not idolatry as some have argued. It is not pagan idol worship. Even if the origin, as it is argued, is pagan, the Saturnalia festival in honour of Saturn, the ancient Roman god of agriculture, and later the festival of the sun god Sol Invictus, the practices considered as idolatry during the earlier years of Christmas celebration are no more there today in most nations. Where they still exist, they should be addressed not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
If a god was being originally worshipped on December 25, that’s not the case now. We can worship God on December 25 as we worship Him every day. There is nothing wrong with celebrating Jesus on December 25 even if there is no proof that He was born on that date and early Christians didn’t celebrate it.
God made all days of the year; no idol made any day. So if an idol was being celebrated on a certain day and the celebration of Christmas was fixed on the same day, what is bad about that? We have simply taken back the day that belonged to God originally and given it back to Him as a day of worship! Where are those gods today? You don’t get to hear about them.
None of the scriptures being relied on to condemn the Christmas celebration today, such as Jeremiah 10:2-4, are relevant to the subject. No scripture specifically prohibits Christmas celebrations. Even if the Christmas tree was a symbol of idol worship in the past, it doesn’t have that connotation today among most Christians. The Christmas tree is to most Christians for decoration. We don’t worship the tree. We don’t worship any idol at Christmas; we worship God. If they worship the tree in some places and call themselves Christians, that is a different matter entirely. They need to be taught to reform their Christian celebration.
We must celebrate Christmas with the right understanding, spirit, and attitude. Christmas celebration must be Christ-centred, not commercialized and secularized. Jesus Christ must be at the centre of the celebration; He is the reason for the season. Christmas is a celebration of God’s love for humanity – the salvation of man from sin.
The word Christmas is not in the Bible just as Easter and rapture are not but they are described in the Bible. There are also traditions and programmes being done by different denominations that are not mentioned in the Bible especially the New Testament. This does not necessarily make them sinful.
Christmas is not mentioned in the Bible but the major thing Christmas is about, the birth of Jesus, is recorded in the Bible. The Bible does not say anything for or against Christmas. The non-existence of the word Christmas in the Bible doesn’t make its celebration sinful.
The Bible warns against quarreling over doubtful things. “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things” (Romans 14:1 New King James Version). The New International Version says, “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.” And the English Standard Version puts it this way: “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” This principle is applicable. Christians must be careful about quarreling over opinions on Christmas and thereby empower the enemies of the church.
Verses 5-6a of Romans 14 say, “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it” (New King James Version). If anyone doubts if it’s right to celebrate Christmas, he should not celebrate it for whatever is not of faith is sin (verse 23).
Those who do not celebrate Christmas should not condemn those who do. If there are excesses or pagan practices, these could be pointed out for correction without making the essence of the celebration appear evil. Indeed, some churches that condemn the Christmas celebrations may have to reform and get rid of some idolatrous practices in how they pray, conduct services, etc. Those who celebrate Christmas should do everything to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33 says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” ( New King James Version). This principle is relevant to the controversy on Christmas celebration, which was first held as a Roman state festival in 336 AD under Roman Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor.
Only two of the four books of the Gospels in the Bible, Matthew and Luke, record the birth of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 1:21, the angel told Joseph in a dream the reason for the birth of Jesus: “And she [Mary] will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (New King James Version).
The salvation of sinners is the main reason for the birth of Jesus and Christmas should be celebrated with this understanding. If you’re not born again, you should respond to the love of God now. Your Christmas celebration this year shouldn’t be without Jesus in your life.
You need to come into a personal relationship with Jesus rather than concentrate on the social aspect of the season. Jesus, born over 2000 years ago, must now be born in your heart. This is possible right now if you’re ready to surrender your life to Jesus.
God loves you and sent Jesus to be born to save you from your sins. If He had not been born, He wouldn’t have died for your sins. It all started with God’s love to save humanity. “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9 New King James Version).
You should respond to God’s love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17 New King James Version).
Jesus is the Saviour of the whole world, not the Saviour of only the Israelites. Have you received Him as your Lord and Saviour? Don’t celebrate Christmas without Christ in your life. “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 New King James Version). Is it a sin to celebrate Christmas? No.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, thank you for the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ born of a virgin and who died to save us from our sins. Father, as we celebrate Jesus this season, help us not to be distracted from the essence of the celebration. Holy Spirit, help the church to celebrate Christmas in a way that will bring more souls into the kingdom of God. Touch the hearts of sinners that the Christ who was born a baby over 2,000 years ago will now be born in their hearts.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947