The Dancing Puritan

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Opportunities of Christmas

What are your thoughts about Christmas? Whether one decorates a tree, exchanges gifts on December 25th, or sings White Christmas is really not the issue.  It should be said that godliness is not measured by whether one celebrates Christmas or not.  The question goes much deeper. Where are your affections?  What are your motives?  What is your ultimate goal?  These are questions that penetrate deep as you consider what your response will be to Christmas.  Think through the following considerations as you seek to honor God this holiday season.

1. Consider the Bible.   Embrace what Scripture embraces and rejects what it rejects.  When it is silent seek wisdom.  Celebrating Christmas would be among those ‘silent’ issues.  Christians are not commanded to celebrate Christmas.  As Christians we must seek to be Christ-centered people everyday.  There does not seem to be anything fundamentally unbiblical or biblical about decorating a tree or setting aside a season of holiday celebration.  They are really non-issues.  The issue is Christ-centeredness in all of life. For to me to live is Christ...(Philippians 1:19). Beware then of establishing a monument of self-righteousness based on your degree or lack of degree of celebrating Christmas.  As followers of King Jesus we should preach against materialism and worldliness and we should proclaim the excellency of Christ.  Why love the world or the things in the world when there is an all-satisfying, infinitely delightful, eternally lovely Christ to be loved?  That is a message worth communicating.  Decorating or not decorating a Christmas tree has little to do with our ability to proclaim that message.

2. Seize the Opportunities of the Christmas Season. It is, in fact, true that some folks would have any reference to God or the Bible removed from any public place in our culture.  The willful ignorance of our country’s history by such people is staggering.  That being said, the Christmas season seems to be a time when people are more open to discussing the Christian faith.  Christians can choose to seize the opportunities of the season.  For example, while many people are thinking about gifts, peace and goodwill, and family, it seems that Christians should look for opportunity to speak to those issues biblically.  I think that we have increased opportunities to be a witness for Christ during the holidays than at other times during the year.  Seize the opportunities by considering the following suggestions:

   A. Open Your Home During the Holidays.  As Christians we are to love the Lord and we are to love others.  A wonderful way to get to know people is to invite them to your home for a meal or snacks.  That opens up opportunity for engaging conversation.  Invite your neighbors and others to stop by your home during the holidays for coffee and cookies.  Fill your home with Christmas hymns to focus your own thinking and to serve as a witness to your guests.

  B. Give Thoughtful Gifts.  Gifts do not have to cost a lot of money.  We purchase some gifts but we have also made many others over the years.  My wife, Lori, has been teaching our daughters to cook since they were very young.  Through the years they have made a variety of homemade treats to give to neighbors, teachers. family and other friends.  You can attach a handmade card filled with Bible verses to the treats.  One year we gave away a photocopied selection of some of my writings that included a gospel presentation.  Our family enjoys reading and giving books.  Give books that communicate sound doctrine in a winsome way.  Be creative and seek to honor God through your giving.

  C.  Build Family Traditions.  We have a biblical responsibility to pass down the faith.  Christmas traditions, I think, can facilitate us in the effort.  The Bible states: “You shall teach (God’s Words) to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 11:19).  The beauty of all that God has created and how it displays His fingerprints is amazing.  God has not painted this world in black and white but has filled it with colors and tastes.  Christmas can be a time when our eyes are captured and our taste buds dance with more vigor--a time of learning that eating, drinking, and decorating a tree can all be done to the glory of God.  In fact, anything at all, except those things that God has forbidden, can and should be done to His glory.  Everyday Lori and I are seeking to grow in our faith and we are seeking to teach our children of the greatness of God. Our goal is that they will love the Lord and will tell others of His greatness.  One of our Christmas traditions is to read the Christmas story from the Old and New Testaments many evenings in December.  Take time to read the story of Christmas with your family.