This time of year, those of us in God’s Church are often asked why we don’t keep Christmas. There are a variety of ways to answer this question, and we want to take into account what we know (if anything) of the person asking to avoid unnecessarily offending when explaining the truth (Matthew 12:36) — understanding that offense cannot always be avoided, but understanding, as well, that it is one thing if the truth offends and quite another if we offend (I hope that distinction is not too unclear…). The vast majority of “Christians” keep Christmas not out of a spirit of rebellion, but out of ignorance or deception (and Satan has deceived the whole world – Rev. 12:9).
But here I would like to cover one of the briefer answers that I am accustomed to giving. It is related to the pop-“Christian”-culture sentiment of WWJD — What Would Jesus Do? Perhaps it may be of help for some out there who are looking for a short answer to give, yet one which leaves the door open for more discussion if the questioner wishes to pursue it. Also, it is possible that some outside of my congregations may come across this post and wonder, themselves, “Why in the world would someone who considers himself a follower of Jesus Christ not keep Christmas?”
Essentially, I do not keep Christmas because Jesus would not, either.
Christmas as both a collection of traditions and as a celebration in general has thoroughly pagan, pre-Christian origins. This fact no reasonable & informed person disputes, and it is easy for anyone to investigate for himself — just crack open almost any half-way reputable encyclopedia of your choice (last I checked). Even Dr. James Dobson of “Focus on the Family” acknowledged this in a Q&A section of his magazine that I read once (though he still condoned the keeping of Christmas). In fact, I’m not sure how old it is but there is a hilarious sound file of comedian Drew Carey floating around in e-mail circles in which he makes great fun of this very fact (I have received several copies). The utterly pagan origin of almost every aspect of the Christmas celebration is widely recognized.
So, as a Christian, I must be mindful of my Lord’s admonition to the Pharisees to stop giving their traditions priority over God’s commands:
He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men–the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”–‘ (that is, a gift to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
Now some may have numerous objections to this. For example, “You’ve taken this section out of context!” — to which I would reply, “No additional context is going to change the nature of what Jesus is saying here: that it is sinful to lay aside the commandment of God so that one may hold on to his tradition.”
Or some might say, “But He is attacking the traditions of the Pharisees — washing cups and stuff — not all traditions!” To this I would respond, “The meaning is clear: traditions that cause us to ignore God’s commandment are the problem He is addressing. Why should the traditions of the Pharisees be any more vile than those of the Greeks and Romans, in and of themselves? What makes the tradition vile — and earns Christ’s indignation — is the effect keeping the tradition has of causing one to lay God’s commandment aside.”
But one of the more popular responses is, “We are worshipping God and Christ through these traditions. How could He be indignant at that?”
There are a number of answers to this response, as well, but the best (in my opinion) comes from Deuteronomy, in the form of a command of God which someone must lay aside in order to keep Christmas (the very act Christ is condemning):
When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.
God not only does not want us using pagan customs to worship, He does not even want us to use such customs to worship Him.
Choosing to worship God and Christ through the use of pagan customs means laying aside the commandment of God, which says, “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way.” To keep the tradition of Christmas is to lay aside a commandment of God, and to ignore the indignation of our Lord on such practices.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m sure that the modern-day equivalents of the religious lawyers and Pharisees we have among us will imagine whatever Biblical “loopholes” they need to continue observing their tradition. But for a heart looking to obey rather than justify, those “loopholes” will be obvious for what they are.
So why don’t I keep Christmas? Here’s a brief answer: God commands us not to use pagan practices of worship, even if it is done to worship Him, and Jesus teaches us not to ignore God’s commands in order to keep man’s traditions. And as a follower of Christ, that means something to me.
The traditions of Christmas confront modern “Christianity” with a question: Is “What Would Jesus Do?” just a slogan, or is it a way of life?
As Proverbs 20:11 tells us, “Even a child is known by his deeds…”
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[For those who are unfamiliar with God’s Holy Days — those days given by God in Scripture and celebrated by Jesus, the Apostles, and the first century Church — we have a very helpful booklet: THE HOLY DAYS – God’s Master Plan. You will be surprised at what observing the “feasts of the LORD” as opposed to those holidays adopted from paganism can teach you about God’s great plan for mankind. If you’re wondering how modern-day “Christianity” could have come so far away from the actual teachings of Christ, you might want to consider, as well, our booklet on Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity. Both of these booklets can be ordered absolutely free (we never ask for donations) from our website at this link: Order Free. You will be amazed at what your Bible and Christ, Himself, actually say about most of the practices that, today, are considered to be “Christian.” And you will be delighted at how enriching and meaningful the real truth of the Bible is compared to the counterfeit. I highly recommend these booklets to those who want to understand their Bible and the Christianity Jesus Christ actually founded.]