It’s kind of weird, in an entertaining way, to watch the religious world battle over Christmas. There is the “Jesus is the reason for the season” crowd, who make sure that Christ is at the center of every mention of Christmas. There is the “historical” crowd, who are quick to point out that Jesus was not, in fact, born on December 25th and so the day has nothing to do with Him. And, there is the “peace keeping” crowd who remind everyone that it doesn’t matter what you celebrate it as.
All three groups have good intentions, and all three are right in their own way. I appreciate the zeal for Christ shown by the first group, the historical accuracy of the second group, and the hearts of the third group to appeal to Romans 14 and maintain unity.
But should we really care whether December 25th holds importance to Christians today or if people are wrong to say that it does? Or should we see it as one, big opportunity?
The world doesn’t have five minutes for Jesus all year long and yet in December, it’s okay to mention His name and talk about His time on earth. It doesn’t matter how accurate or inaccurate someone’s beliefs about Bethlehem and the manger might be according to me, what matters is that the door is opened to discuss Him in a way that I might not get to the other 11 months of the year. While December is often about gifts and time with family, Christians need to start to view it in another light, and that’s as the time of the greatest opportunities for evangelism that we’re going to get all year.
I know as well as any that it’s very difficult to turn a conversation to Jesus, but it’s a lot easier this time of year. Ask people what Jesus’ birth means to them, ask them if they observe it with a church, ask them their favorite account of Jesus’ life… come up with something to open a door that’s far more cracked than it’s going to be the rest of the year. Even with New Year’s resolutions people will often aim to be more spiritual, read their Bible more, attend worship more often. One survey even found that 57% of people who don’t regularly go to church are either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to attend if invited around Christmas. FIFTY. SEVEN. PERCENT! Opportunities abound. Again, the point remains – do something.
You don’t have to support Christmas as CHRISTmas to see that the fields are particularly white unto harvest this time of year. We live in a world where Jesus’ name is everywhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and by New Year’s Eve, he’s completely forgotten again. Everyone wants to talk about the manger, few want to talk about the cross. I understand that, and I see the challenge that presents… but at least they’re thinking about Him. It’s our job to take that and use what they do know about Him to make them into disciples who see Him as He truly is. I’ve talked to Christians who are more concerned that the world has misunderstood December 25th than they are that those souls are lost. Our focus has to change.
The whole point of Jesus coming to earth, whether that occurred in December or not, was to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) and to take our sins to the cross with Him (1 Peter 2:24). If people see that we’ll go to great lengths to make sure “Merry Christmas” is used instead of “Happy Holidays” but don’t see us caring about those around us, shame on us. If people learn from us that there weren’t actually three wise men but don’t come away understanding what Jesus’ life means to them eternally, shame on us. Instead of worrying about the specific date or the details that have been misunderstood over time, let’s use the chance given us to show people the entirety of who Jesus is and to follow His mission to reach them with His love.
By Jack Wilkie