|Volume 24 Number 11 November 2022
Keep Christ Out?
Cecil May, Jr.
“Christ-mas” was originally a special Roman Catholic Church mass that focused on the birth of Christ – the incarnation. Since the date of Jesus’ birth is unknown, the RCC chose the pagan festival for the rebirth of the sun, when in the northern hemisphere the daylight hours start getting longer. In a much-used tactic, they gave Christian meaning to a pagan festival. So, Christmas traces back to a pagan festival and a Roman Catholic Mass.
The church, though, is not authorized to celebrate Jesus’ birth. Consequently, many in churches of Christ oppose giving Christmas any religious significance, celebrating it just as a family holiday gathering. I remember a tag line on a church bulletin, maybe even announcing a sermon topic, that read, “Keep Christ out of Christmas.” That was decades ago, but I remember thinking then, “I do not want to keep Christ out of anything or anywhere.” Today, secular humanists want to keep Christ out of everything. I want to be their strongest opposition. I do not want to be their ally.
A little boy was told, “No one knows the actual birthday of Jesus; somebody just made up a date to celebrate.” The boy said, “Wow. If we didn’t know when mine was, I would want somebody to make up one for me.”
A passage in Romans directly addresses how Christians should deal with special holidays, but it is rarely quoted or mentioned in most of the sermons and articles that tell us we should not preach or sing about Jesus’ birth around Christmas or about the resurrection near Easter.
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. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. (Romans 14:5-6 NKJV)
Eating meat sacrificed to idols is discussed in the same passage [context]. The apostolic decree was the idol is nothing, and nothing harmful was done to the meat when it was sacrificed to an idol (Romans 14:1-13). If there are weaker believers who would be caused to “stumble,” that is, led to sin by doing what they believe is sinful, we should love our brothers and sisters too much to force the issue with them (1 Corinthians 8:1-13; 10:23-33). On the other hand, the weak are commanded not to condemn those who eat meats or give some days greater significance than others (Romans 14:10-13).
Finally, how could there be a stronger authorization for celebrating Christ’s birth or Christ’s resurrection or any other special day than when Scripture says, “He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord…” (Romans 14:6)?
[Editor’s Note: First, there exists no biblical authority for the church to establish and to observe a special day with religious significance. Secondly, any day and every day is a good day for a child of God to personally commit to Christ or to God. Thirdly, Christians can opt to observe the secular or national importance of a holiday without attributing to it a religious significance. Fourthly, there are some matters (e.g., eating of meats, observance of days) of relatively religious irrelevance where no one must believe and do the same things or is called upon to compel other Christians to believe and do as he does. Not everything is a test of fellowship, despite that sundry tenets of Christianity, indeed, are tests of fellowship (2 John 9-11). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
Exercising Our Faith
It is a known fact that during the ministry of Jesus on earth, there were varying degrees of faith in those who came to Him. Consider the following three examples. In Mark 9:17-24, Jesus cast out a mute spirit from a son whose father wavered between faith and doubt. In Mark 1:40-45, He healed a leper who knew He could heal but was not sure He would. In Luke 7:1-10, our Lord healed the servant of a centurion who was so sure of the outcome that he asked Jesus merely to speak the word from afar.
As you can see from these three examples, not all people exercise the same degree of faith. In our day, not all Christians exercise the same degree of faith either. Some people seem to think their problems are too big for God to solve. Others are sure that God is all-powerful, but they are not confident that He will do what is best for them. Still others affirm, “I know what God can do, and I’ll trust Him to do what He has promised.” Such attitudes range from a weak and tentative faith to a firm confidence that takes God at His word and believes He is loving, cares and is good.
What does God want from us as His children? His ultimate goal for each of us, when it comes to our faith, is that we may know and experience the fullness of His ongoing fellowship. Your faith will grow and be more effective when you fully recognize the greatness of your Father God, His Son Jesus Christ and God the Holy Spirit. For further study, read all three gospel accounts (Mark 9:17-24; 1:40-45; Luke 7:1-10) and ask the question, “What kind of faith do I have – strong, weak or wavering between faith and doubt?”