Spoiler Alert: The Grinch Didn’t Steal Christmas
This is the time of the year where some people celebrate Christmas and others divide over it. You’ve probably come across some people who have determined that celebrating Christmas and all the traditions that go along with it are not biblical. They say if you are a Christ follower then you are blaspheming the name of God by celebrating this pagan holiday (their words not mine). They would be right except…
It is biblical to celebrate the birth of Christ. There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament telling the Israelites and humanity to look forward to that day. Jesus even said there were Old Testament people who would have “rejoiced” to see His day. And at the birth of Jesus, not only did the shepherds celebrate, rejoice, and share the good news, so did a portion of the angelic host of heaven. All that is in the Bible so it is biblical to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
The birth of Jesus Christ may or may not be on the 25th of December, but does that matter? Is it possible that God caused a warm spell specifically to cause shepherds to head out and be a witness to the single most miraculous event in history? Possible but not a big deal if it wasn’t. The early church was already looking for a day and a way to celebrate the birth of Christ before the 25th was established. Early church leaders such as Hippolytus and Alexandria were in favor of it while others, like Origen, felt it should be separated from the way birthdays of false Gods or heads of state were celebrated. One theologian in 320 AD stated “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of Him who made it.”
The traditions of gift giving, having parties, bringing greenery into the homes, charity, yule logs, and festivals of food were associated with other cultural celebrations: Roman Saturnalia, Roman New Year, birth of the unconquered sun celebration, birthday of Mithras – a Persian deity. However, in the book of Acts the Apostle Paul travels to Athens. He tells the community there that the worship they are directing towards gods of stone and metal that do not talk nor exist should be directed toward the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that did exist and created all things. In the same way, the early church redeemed the traditions mentioned above and informed the community at that time to direct their worship, via those traditions, away from Roman and Persian gods that did not exist towards a God that did exist and appeared before humanity as Jesus Christ.
If we forget why we are celebrating and what we are celebrating then the Grinch has succeeded in stealing our Christmas.