What are we celebrating this Christmas season really?
Please don’t tell me, because Jesus knew how to party. After all, He did turn water into wine at a wedding, right? I hope our faith is not based on how much fun we can get out of this life, because quite frankly, I had enough of that in my previous life as a sinner and it didn’t pay off at all!
So, why are millions of Christians celebrating Christmas with abundant dinners and extravagant festivities, spending billions on gifts and church events for this “most wonderful time of the year”?
Do we really celebrate Christ’s birth?
It’s not even that the 25th of December isn’t even His real birthday, it’s just that we thank Him (or at least we should be doing this) on a regular basis already for His body (and blood) during the Communion. We are celebrating Him every Sunday (some even on every other day of the week) and giving Him the praise and the worship He deserves.
There was this movie called “Face Off” and in one of the beginning scenes, the hero enters the office after catching the bad guy. His collegues in the FBI felt like celebrating, but he was mourning and reminded them of the many who have fallen in pursuit of that arrest.
Still another movie, a soldier with the name “Steve Rogers” had this vision of a banquet, wherein other soldiers were having fun, while completely ignoring the war (you can hear the sounds of machine guns and bombs drowning in the music) going on outside. Where they should be out fighting, they were instead having a “blast” of their own.
So, can we truly celebrate in our warm (or air-conditioned) event halls and homes as professing disciples of Christ and call it a day, when around us or maybe even just outside our very church doors, people are dying and going to hell?
Martin Luther King must’ve asked himself a similar question when he jotted down these words:
As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I have a billion dollars.
As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people in this world cannot expect to live more than 28 or 30 years, I can never be totally healthy even if I just got a good checkup at the Mayo Clinic.
I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.
– Martin Luther King Jr.
We can be so confused with the lies of this world and mixed it with the truths of our faith. Like with anything else in life, we can think this or that pleases God, but it’s only God who can tell us what pleases Him. We shouldn’t risk assuming and going wrong on this. He doesn’t deserve our being indifference on any matter and most specifically on this huge event in Christendom. Let God tell us how things should be done.
God was correcting a similar mistake in Isaiah 58. We could actually replace the word “fasting” with anything we think we are doing for God. Let’s take this whole Christmas ordeal as an example…
Isa 58:2-7 (NLT)
2 Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple [on Christmas day] and seem delighted to learn all about Me. They act like a righteous [church] that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask Me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near Me. 3 ‘We have [celebrated Christmas for] You!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t You impressed? We have been [preparing all year long and using all our resources], and You don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are [celebrating Christmas] to please yourselves. Even while you [celebrate Christmas], you keep oppressing your workers. 4 What good is [celebrating Christmas] when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of [Christmas celebration] will never get you anywhere with Me. 5 You humble yourselves by [creating expensive Christmas events], [and giving out lavish gifts to those who have enough already]. You dress in [wonderful suits and gowns or even silly costumes]. Is this what you call [Christmas]? Do you really think this will please the LORD?
6 “No, this is the kind of [Christmas celebration] I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
I’m not trying to attack anyone here. I’m being preached to as well and we seriously need ask ourselves some hard questions about our faith more frequently. The Bible tells us to examine our faith and we need to be sure, we are doing God’s will and not following some man-made tradition that just gives our flesh what it desires.
One thing I know for sure is this: Jesus Christ told us to go out and make disciples by preaching the Good News and loving God and our neighbors with all we are and have. Anything else is unnecessary baggage, don’t you think?