Some Christians believe that Christmas is wrong and that we should have nothing to do with it. They note the pagan origins of the winter festival, the associations with the ‘Christ Mass’, and the incessant commercialism and materialism. I agree with them that Christmas has no Biblical warrant, and I believe that there are many who just sincerely want to keep the worship of God pure.
However, those who criticize Christmas typically do so from a legalistic perspective. The gospel is about grace, and if we are going to get nit-picky about the lawfulness of a holiday we may as well get nit-picky about everything else in our daily lives. The gift represented in Christmas is that God gave His Son, so that we might be free! God loves us in spite of our sin, and if Christmas is a sin, He still loves us.
I believe the critics are wrong to call any participation in Christmas a sin. For some it may be, but it all depends on what you make of it.
Christmas is what one makes of it. If one wants to worship pagan idols and dance around a Christmas tree, then that’s what it is.
If another one wants to participate in an idolatrous mass, then that’s what Christmas is to them.
If another one wants to simply enjoy the mindless commercialism, exploitation, and materialism of the season, then that is their Christmas.
But if a Christian wants to take advantage of the holiday and season as an opportunity to reflect and meditate on the incarnation of Christ, as an opportunity to witness to others of this wonderful mystery, and as a spur (not a means) to worship the Lord in spirit and truth, then that is what Christmas is to them, and that seems to me a good thing.
There may be a tree, lights and decorations, but they are nothing more than incidental to the season. There may be shopping and participation in the cultural traditions, but those need not be done religiously. All of that is just part of the season. It is the cultural aspect. I don’t care much for the cultural aspect, but others do, so I won’t try to spoil it for them.
But for Christmas, I recommend reflecting on the humility of Christ- the mystery of Godliness, and that God was manifest in the flesh. We don’t need a special holiday to do that, but if there happens to be one and it provokes us to think on these things, then it seems no sin to make use of it in that way.
The true Christian can experience the joy of meditating on Jesus on any day and in any season. “Christmas” is more for the world. It is the one time of the year that even non-believers seem to act in a Christian spirit. It is also a great time to share the gospel with others.
But what about the pagan associations? What about corrupting the worship of Christ? We don’t have to bring Christmas into the worship of Christ, but we might bring the worship of Christ into Christmas.