Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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In the News: What are We Doing for Christmas?

Image I have answered the question many times — “What is your church (congregation) going to do to celebrate Christ’s birth on Christmas?” The answer never fails to surprise. “We are going to do nothing at all.” How can a group that claims allegiance to Jesus as Lord and Savior neglect to celebrate His birth on Christmas day?

The simple and concise answer as to why we do nothing special on Christmas day is because Jesus never indicated He wants us to! We are not so presumptuous to think that He desires it, unless He indicates such a desire in His will for us.

In contrast, we do remember His death. In the case of His death, He commissioned a memorial (Matthew 26:26-29). First century Christians observed that memorial feast on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Paul instructed Christians regarding the proper demeanor for the observance (1 Corinthians 11:17-33). As such, it is not presumptuous to do the same. In fact, it is expected and necessary. Not so with His birth.

The holiday known as Christmas had its origin after the close of the New Testament canon. This is not in dispute. Only the ignorant believe that Christ’s birth can be pinpointed to a particular day, never mind that particular day (December 25).

By way of evidence we point out that there is no mention of any Christians celebrating Jesus’ birth in the New Testament writings. The holiday has a place of prominence in the denominations today. Even the casually religious will attend a church on Christmas day and Easter Sunday, though they might not darken the door of a church building at any other time of the year. It is common for us to get visitors from the community when Christmas or Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday or a Wednesday, for just this reason. It is telling that a day that is so important to modern “Christendom” has absolutely no presence in scripture.

Also, secular history clearly shows Christmas to have a less ancient beginning. While its full and complete origins are in shadow, the earliest possible reference to any celebration of Jesus’ birth dates over 300 years following His death. The celebration was established and authorized as a Christian holiday by the Catholic church, not the New Testament scriptures. Those who began the practice did not settle upon the date of December 25 until much later. Biblical details favor a birth in the Spring rather than the winter. Many of the traditions surrounding the religious observance are influenced by Pagan winter festivals and practices.

There are many religious people who acknowledge such to be the case, but consider it of no importance. In their view any celebration of Christ is a good thing, and would obviously please Him. In response we quote Jesus’ expressed attitude toward those who presumptuously offer worship to Him. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).

So, this is a short answer as to why our church will do nothing special on December 25th to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Yes, we do think it was a wondrous event in man’s history when “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). We acknowledge Him as our Lord, and admit that “all authority has been given” to Him “in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Paul wrote, “Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11). Because of this, we will limit ourselves to His revealed instructions because of our abiding respect for Him.