In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. (Luke 2:1 ESV)
Yesterday while scrolling my Facebook page, I saw a lot of posts dripping with anger, resentment and sarcasm delivered by depression. I remember feeling sad for those who don't care to celebrate such a time as the birth of Christ. Granted, no His birth was not in the dead of winter, nor was it how most movies depict it. And I get why some choose not to celebrate because it is also a time of Winter Solstice celebration formally named Jól which is a pagan celebration in which a Yule (tide) feast is given to honor a certain god. I can see that this time of year is racked by greedy retailers who while trying to make the most money by having the best "deals" have simultaneously attempted to take Christ out of the equation or by consumers and retailers alike have begun the process of rushing a time of thanksgiving in November to get to the buying and gift getting instead of giving. I will most likely get a lot of flack about this post, then again I have been surprised before. Here is my outtake and why as Christ followers we cannot ignore this season for a certain Reason.
In school, I remember having certain friends who hated the fact that their birthdays were in the summer because they did not have good "turnouts" for their parties. My daughter has a few friends who are like that. But now the new trend, a smart one I say, is to hold a party after school is back in session. Even my youngest daughters birthday falls at an awkward time now that she is in high school. Friends who are in spring sports don't have that much time attend parties as soccer, baseball/ softball and track are in full session. So we improvise and move the time of any celebration to before her birthday. I will even be celebrating my birthday beforehand as I prepare to go in a mission trip to Jamaica this next year (prayerfully). I say all that to point out it's not the date that's as important, it's the event. My children's birth dates will always be important to me but as they get older, we celebrate when time and funds permit. My two oldest are 2 years and a month apart and so for big celebrations, like this next one, we will celebrate in the middle of both for both. The date of Christ's being born is so significant to us as it was in biblical times because his birth came at a time of greedy rulers, despair, taxes that should have been illegal and a great outcry to God for the coming Savior that was foretold. But we seem to always have those things with us. Depression, poverty, sickness, greed, and a great outcry happen everyday. I believe there is a reason we do not know the exact day that Christ was born. Yes I know scholars have done extensive research with dates, seasons and even looking at the region and when the events normally happened. But if God wanted us to focus on an actual date, it would be in the Bible as many dates are. Don't you think Jesus' birth was that significant to Him that if He wanted us to know it, He would have told us? While many Christians are biting down on this "not celebrating the birth of Jesus" fad, I believe the enemy of our souls is able to step in and bring confusion to the table with him. We as children of the Most High argue with each other, non believers and those who aren't sure what they believe yet about whether to celebrate a day, whatever the actual date may be, when God was brought low in the form of man to exonerate man of sin by his ultimate sacrifice on a tree, which we also argue whether to celebrate His death and subsequent being raised from the dead (Easter). Am I saying promote the fantasy of Santa and the Easter Bunny in lieu of Christ's birth and sacrifice for us? No, not at all. When my children were a little younger, Easter baskets ad egg hunts were done on another day, usually the Saturday before, and even though I had not even had a personal relationship with Christ, His birth and sacrifice days were set aside for myself and my kids. As they got older, we moved gift exchange to New Years Day and well, there are no more Easter baskets.
Here's what I am ultimately saying, because I can be long winded. Luke is where the Disciple who took the time to explain some background about what was going on around Christ's birth. He tells of Caesar Agustus' newly required registry which would lead Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. In a deeper look into those times, we find out that Herod, a fanatical Jewish wannabe, heard of the Messiah's coming and ordered the death of many male children. We find out about the famine, the wailing, etc. All of that is just as important as the actual birth to know God's perfect planning and timing for our lives. How can we then react as Pharisees would have with the Law and focus on a date instead of the importance? In two different places we are told in God's Word that everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial (1 Corinthians 6:12, 10:23). The second time it is said has to do with giving God glory. So lets ask ourselves, if we celebrate this holiday, is there no way God can get the glory? Is there no way we can use this time to draw those to Christ, to be a light to this dark world? This, along with any disaster or tragedy, appears to be the only time most will be "kind" and support each other, even attend church. Shouldn't we take advantage of this opportunity as we are told in Colossians 3:23? My children and I have made changes to the way we celebrate CHRISTmas and I can see God positioning us to give, worship, to bless others, to give ourselves away, not because of the negative foundation of this holiday but because even what the world means for evil, God will use for good.... that is if we let Him use us. So with that, I say Merry CHRISTmas and pray you say the same!
ABBA, thank You for giving the ultimate Gift of Your only Son for us. Forgive us for making this about a date and falling into the pharisaical trap of the enemy while others are rapidly removing from Him this celebration. Help us not to be so careful of dotting "i's" and crossing "t's" that we forget that, Jesus YOU are the Reason for this season no matter how it came about. Wake us up and set us right, Lord. And if for some reason it is not Your will for us to use this time to celebrate you and give to others unprecedentedly and with great avidity while teaching our children of the greatest Gift ever, then forgive me for my ignorance and You teach me! In Jesus name. Amen!