I love Christmas. I love the cold weather outside, the decorations at home, giving my kids presents, and all the time with my family. I look forward to Christmas all year. However, it’s easy to forget one simple fact. Christmas isn’t a requirement. The Bible doesn’t even use the word.
To go even further, Jesus never told anyone to celebrate His birth (which didn’t occur on December 25). Don’t get me wrong, I think celebrating Christmas is a great idea. His birth was miraculous and should be remembered – but we completely miss the point when celebrating Christmas becomes a rule we check off our list and enforce on others.
Even though Christians aren’t required to celebrate Christmas, many of us get upset at people for saying “happy holidays.” We talk about it on facebook. We make sure to remind everyone that “I say ‘Merry Christmas,'” as if that’s what saves us. We get mad at the rumors of Obama having a “holiday tree” – even though he’s our president, not our pastor.
Paul told the Colossians “Let no one pass judgment on you … with regard to a festival” Colossians 2:16 ESV (emphasis added). When it comes down to it, Christmas is a festival, and we’re not called to judge someone based on how they celebrate it … if they celebrate it.
I understand the importance of keeping Christ at the center, but we get off base when Christmas is the only time of year we set aside to do it. Isn’t it hypocritical to make a bigger deal out of Jesus for one month of the year than the other eleven? How many of us are sticklers about “keeping Christ in Christmas,” but cheat on our taxes in April?
Here’s a different idea. Instead of getting mad at someone for sending a friendly “Happy Holidays” your way, consider the possibility that they’re not a Christian. If they’re not, it’s much better to use it as an opportunity for the gospel, instead of getting offended. Getting angry at them for it will accomplish nothing. I’ve never seen anyone fall to their knees in repentance because they were wowed by a Christmas greeting.
What you say to strangers at this time of year is a poor indicator of where you stand with God. It’s possible to say “Happy Holidays” and love Jesus, just like it’s possible to say “Merry Christmas” and hate Him. If your favorite December greeting is the best way you can express your faith, your priorities need evaluating.
So if you celebrate Christmas, enjoy it. If you don’t, I won’t hassle you.