Christ, More Than an Adornment
One of the wonders of December is the nostalgic display of Christmas lights that brighten up the cold evenings of the Northern Hemisphere. Sharp colors of green, red, blue, yellow, and white hang from the gutters, window sills, and surrounding trees of the old and new homes alike, giving them that yearly spark that has the power to turn a bad day good and an anxious heart into the deep retrospective realms of childhood memories. We embrace the sentimental feelings of Christmas that seem to resurface about the same time every year. It is a time when families are brought back together and each family member’s personality is brought alongside the gift or food item to be shared.
Along with the calendar, there are smells, colors, songs, and attitudes that tell us of the date that closes in—Christmas.
As we grow up, though, we are faced with one of the raw deals of reality—the bitterness of others who put up signs, posts, and news reports to broadcast their disdain for this special day. We may even grit our teeth and mutter something such as, “Don’t these people have other things to do or did they not receive enough attention as children for them to lash out at such a wondrous occasion?”
Emotions run high on both sides of this debate, but before we come together to strike back at these modern day Scrooges and Grinches, it just may be an opportunity for a defining moment for ourselves as well. Could it be that so many of us tend to blur the distinctive line between a cultural day of celebration and the real Jesus that was born in a manger?
Don’t Make the Egg Come Before the Chicken
Although I am looking forward to celebrating this Christmas in my home with my wife and children, it would be beneficial to take an objective look at what is at stake here and make sure, even in a defense of what is good and true, that all is in its correct order.
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17, NASB)
It is so easy for us to try to do things in the name of Christ without considering his Word or will. Notwithstanding, even if we have, we could still be wrong. Any time we keep Christ in anything, we are submitting to an idolatrous religion. If you work to keep Christ in a song, your song has become an idol because the song is the end, not Christ. If you keep Christ in your home, you are working for the wrong cause.
According to the Apostle Paul, “we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NASB), not taking Christ captive to the obedience of our thought! In other words, the redeemed shouldn’t fancy the idolatry of keeping Christ in Christmas, but in our lives, in our homes, in our churches, we are to submit the very idea of Christmas to Christ himself! Any other way is not only putting the day and events before the Lord (idolatry), but it also can be a delusional placement (or displacement) of Christ himself.
Everything in the Christian life should flow from the Word of God, thus should submit to and be in Christ.
Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. His kingdom is forever and forever. We don’t make him Lord of our lives. He is Lord. In the salvation experience, we are submitting to his lordship in this life, and those who reject him will submit to his lordship after this life, but without salvation (Philippians 2:10–11).
For those who have his free gift of salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9), everything in the Christian life should flow from the Word of God, thus should submit to and be in Christ. Therefore, for the believer, we are to keep Christmas in Christ.
How Do We Keep Christmas in Christ?
Christmas is one of the things whose placement and submission we can control, but Christ is not! So to submit Christmas to Christ, we must find Christ according to his Word (Hebrews 1:1–2), which starts in Genesis 1:1.
According to his Word, in Genesis 3:15 (NASB), there is a promise of a coming “Seed” that would bruise or crush the serpent’s head, which is a mortal wound in comparison to the bruising on the heel that the serpent would inflict on this blessed Seed. Through progressive revelation (the clarifying points of God’s redemptive plan through Scripture), the Bible tells us that this Seed would come from the lineage of Abraham (Genesis 22:18): God made flesh (Isaiah 9:6; Jeremiah 23:6; Romans 9:3–5), born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) in the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), and that he would bear the punishment as a propitiation for our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6).
Just as foreordained and prophesied, this baby Jesus was born; the eternal Son of God was given to us approximately 2,000 years ago in a humble manger in Bethlehem from a virgin. Angels announced his birth and a bright light was given for wise men from the east to follow. The buildup to the bruising of Jesus’ heel began as King Herod sought to end his life.
After around 33 years of earthly life, this perfect God-man assumed our role even further by giving his life as a ransom for many on a Roman cross. And even though this wooden cross was fitted together by human hands and fashioned by Greco-Roman minds, “it was the will of the Lord to crush” his only begotten Son so that propitiation could be made in Jesus’ voluntary transaction (Isaiah 53:10). The sinless God-man was made sin for us on that dark, blessed day as he was accursed.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13)
He was cursed! The eternal Logos, who was the Father’s precious Lamb, was cursed for the sins of mankind. Whether Christmas is a materialistic time for you, a family time, or even a time of giving, if you don’t know Christ, putting Christ in your Christmas would only add another sentiment to your 25th of December. There is, though, something supremely important that you could do. Would you consider submitting not just your Christmas, but also your entire self to Christ?
For those of us who do know Christ, let us remember that we are called not only to keep the Christmas in Christ, but to submit all to him for his glory. Let us take this debate to its corresponding gospel front. If you are inclined to “correct” someone for saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” you would honor Christ to talk to them about the Christ who is Lord of all during Christmas, as well as the other 364.25 days of the year, and let them know that he will save those who trust in him for the forgiveness of their sins.
Let the manger scene, whose centerpiece is the baby in swaddling clothing, speak to us now on the true meaning of Christmas by looking at what this baby would later proclaim: “
Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
What is this glorious gospel in which we must place our trust?
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3–4)
In conclusion, we could approach Christmas in a few ways:
- Elect not to celebrate.
- Use this time as a materialistic way to buy our way into our children’s favor (and our neighbors’ awe).
- Somehow “put” Christ in Christmas for the celebration of a holy day.
- Submit this day and all of our lives to Christ and live celebrating his birth, life, death, and Resurrection forevermore.
I don’t know about you, but as for me and my house, we’ll take number four while enjoying the celebration on December 25. So with these thoughts in mind, Merry Christmas to you and yours.