How shall we celebrate this time of year? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Normally, I’d on Thursday put up a post about who’s going to be on the show this Saturday. Since today is Christmas, I’ll be different this week. As I write this, I am with my in-laws in Atlanta. We woke up this morning with the exchanging of gifts and then just got done having a lunch together. I’ve spent most of the day reading, especially since now I have a whole lot of new books to work through.
I did write a post earlier this month on if Christians should celebrate Christmas. Yet even late last night as I was surfing on Facebook I see yet another claim about how we should not celebrate man-made holidays. Now if someone does not want to celebrate Christmas, that’s fine, but when it’s made a matter of legalistic righteousness then I have a problem. You are not more righteous because you do not celebrate Christmas. You are not more righteous because you do celebrate Christmas.
What matters in all of these cases is your intent. You do not accidentally worship a pagan deity. Worship is an act of intention. It is not the case that you go to church and accidentally worship. When you worship something, you are intentionally giving of yourself to a higher being of some sort. If you are observing Christmas, unless you are intending to worship Odin or some being like that, then you are safe on that front.
So what if you are doing it to celebrate and honor the Son of God? Then you’re fine. Now obviously we could raise some questions about how we honor. One could not, for instance, have a big orgy on Christmas and say that that is done to honor God since that explicitly goes against what He said to do, but with freedom of days we are given great leeway in passages like Romans 14 and Colossians 2.
Did we exchange gifts here? We sure did and we had no problem with it. And you know what? The gifts are nice, but the older you get, at least in my experience, the more and more those don’t really matter as much. It’s not because people told you the gifts are less valuable. It just happens over time as you mature and you start to think more and more about what really matters in life.
Maybe that’s why the idea of Christmas can be so problematic for some. Perhaps it’s just that people get caught up in the secondary matters because we’ve never really emphasized thinking about the primary matters. Maybe in our churches we’ve made worship focus on feelings and actions instead of the intent of the heart. Feelings and actions are important, but they flow out of the heart. Maybe the reason some people can focus on gifts so much and what they get is because we’ve taught our society to do that in other areas.
Could it be in our society we’re already so self-focused and when we go to Christmas, it can bring out what’s already there? If we have self-focus already, Christmas will only show what is already there. We will be focused on the gifts. If we are not, then we can appreciate the gifts and not lose sight of what really matters. If we focus on the externals without dealing with the internals, then we’re not going to deal with the root problem.
And how will we get that kind of maturity? How about by improving what we’re teaching in our churches? If we want to be Christ-centered on Christmas, perhaps it would be easier if we were Christ-centered all year round instead of being so me-centered the way we often are in churches. Perhaps if we made worship more about the glory of God instead of being about our own personal experiences and how we feel, then we would be improving our condition overall.
Focus on Christmas as a problem is missing the real problem. Our problems with Christmas are symptoms of a greater problem, our lack of focus all year long. How about this Christmas we resolve that for next year?